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The assessment and control of pain in elderly patients present unique problems. Old people are likely to experience more pain, both chronic and acute, than their younger counterparts. Demographic changes mean that larger numbers of older patients will require effective and efficient control of pain in order to optimize their quality of life. Relatively little research has focused on this potentially huge problem. This paper discusses issues specific to pain in elderly people, and suggests that wide ranging and careful assessments are needed. Benefits can be achieved not only from the appropriate use of analgesic drugs, but also physical and psychological therapies.