Narcotics are commonly required for the treatment of severe pain due to malignancy at all ages. In recent years, it has been recognized that they may also benefit older people with nociceptor pain that is unresponsive to other management strategies. In this circumstance, narcotic treatment should be undertaken in the full knowledge of relevant laws and potential for side effects in patients who are fully informed and involved in their treatment program. The choice of narcotic depends on the preference and experience of the clinician. It must be recognized that both benefits and side effects of narcotics occur at lower doses in older people than in younger cohorts.
Key words: aging, pain, narcotics, comorbidity, side effects.