“Rebalancing the pendulum: A person-centered approach to treating pain” – Aging Today

pile of pills

by Raca Banerjee

“Mary is a 55-year old patient with terminal breast cancer. She suffers from severe pain and her doctor suggests that she consider using a fentanyl transdermal patch to help allevi­ate her symptoms. In response, she exclaims: ‘Fentanyl? The stuff that killed Prince? No thank you!’

“Current Prescribing Perilous

“This anecdote reflects society’s changing attitude toward opioids, but brings up another impor­tant point. How, while our nation battles an opioid epidemic, do we ensure that patients are open to taking narcotics when needed, or have ac­­cess to pain medication? It is difficult to manage opi­oid prescribing in a way that prevents abuse while meeting patients’ needs. This becomes twice as hard when prescribing for the aging population, including older adults who have ad­­vanced-stage illness or who are at the end of life.

“Barriers that limit access to appropriate opioid treatment include patient fear, physician reluctance to prescribe and strict pharmacy controls or insurer preauthorization restrictions. While these last three issues are important to curbing the opioid epidemic, they may inadvertently lead to under-treatment of pain.”

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