The fact that opioids are valuable tools for the management of pain has been known and used for thousands of years. Currently, millions of Americans are treated annually with opioids, and many of these patients are elderly. Opioids present risks to geriatric patients, some of which are unique to the population, and providers should have a good grasp of those risks. An understanding of how to select appropriate medications for the management of pain and of the myriad of alternatives available for pain management is vital to the care of older patients. This article presents a review, for primary care providers, of issues unique to opioid management in older adults.
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