This article aims to show how a discourse and communication based approach in the context of the care of the elderly provides a basis for reflecting on pain. Based on six hours of data from talk encounters between care professionals and elderly clients, an activity analysis of institutional settings and categorization of interactional discourse was undertaken. The focus was: (a) how elderly people initiated painful accounts, and (b) how the professionals oriented to such accounts. It is found that pain-talks are governed by the institutional practice of different phases:framing; mapping troubles and symptoms; clients' self presentations; counseling, and concluding. This phase structure exemplifies knowledge of communicative activities and is part of practical knowledge which the party, or at least the professional, is expected to become acquainted with. A thematic interactional map of critical moments related to pain as (a) social death and hope, and (b) presentation of self as past and self as present emerges. The caring aspect is to support hope and to change the focus from social death to life and recovering. In foregrounding health, it is important for the elderly people to affirm their identity of themselves as being good and honest persons.