Chronic pain affects one in three older adults, and it is estimated to be Australia’s third most costly health problem. Many people living with chronic pain become dependent on prescribed opioid medication and research shows that this can be harmful in the long-term. Social connection is recognised as a key ingredient to improving the quality of life for those suffering chronic pain, and an important step in reducing opioid dependence, but it is often difficult for health providers to address in the traditional clinical setting. We will present findings from a pilot program that uses a social prescribing approach to enhance social connection in older adults living with chronic pain. The pilot was devised by Turning Point and supported by Gandel Philanthropy, and will offer participants insight into how to address loneliness in older adults.
Dr Shalini Arunogiri is an addiction psychiatrist and senior researcher, and is Deputy Clinical Director at Turning Point, a Victorian statewide addiction treatment service. Dr Angela Simpson is a health psychologist and project manager on the OP-ALMA project.