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Decoding the Mystery of American Pain Reveals a Warning for the Future

The elderly in the United States report less pain than those in midlife—suggesting, perhaps, that once people move into old age, their morbidity will fall. Unfortunately, assessing pain by age at one point in time masks the fact that each successive birth cohort reports more pain at any given age than the cohorts that came before it. We cannot use the experience of the elderly today to project pain prevalence of the elderly tomorrow. Today's elderly have experienced less pain throughout their lives than those in midlife today, who will be tomorrow's elderly. If these patterns continue, pain prevalence will continue to increase for all adults; tomorrow's elderly will be sicker than today's elderly, with serious implications for healthcare. Full story.

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