Managing Pain in Older Adults

These two one-hour training modules describe what pain is and how to know when a resident is in pain. Studies have shown that 60% to 70% of nursing home residents have significant pain and it is often not identified or adequately relieved. This module will help direct care workers identify the signs of pain and learn how to assess and report pain in older adults. Participants will be introduced to pain assessment tools and to non-drug approaches to helping residents who are in pain.


The "Introduction for Instructors" is a guide for delivering the curricula and should be used by instructors in preparing for the training.  Each unit includes two files: (1) a PowerPoint presentation, (2) an instructor's manual.

Module 1: Identifying and Assessing Pain in Your Residents

This module provides participants with an overview of what pain is and how to recognize it in older adults. Since some older adults in nursing homes are unable to verbally communicate their pain and discomfort, this module covers both the verbal and nonverbal indicators of pain. The module also provides information about what needs to be known about pain to effectively manage it.

Module 2: What You Can Do to Help a Resident Who is Experiencing Pain

This module discusses the non-drug approaches to pain that can be administered by direct care staff. In some cases, these strategies can be effective alone, but often they are used in conjunction with medication to increase its effectiveness in the relief of pain. This module covers when and how to apply the different therapies, as well as the precautions needing to be taken with specific therapies.