CONTROLLING PAIN: Assessing pain in patients with advanced dementia

August 2004 
Volume 34  Number 8
Pages 17 - 17
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  • Table. Using the PAI...

    QUESTION: How can I assess pain or discomfort in patients with advanced dementia who can't communicate well?

    ANSWER: Although traditional pain scales are a simple and effective way to measure pain for most patients, they're not suitable pain assessment tools for patients with advanced dementia. In the early stages of dementia, a patient may still be able to reliably report pain levels using visual analogue scales. But these and other pain scales rely on the patient's ability to communicate and to understand the scale being used. As dementia progresses, he loses these abilities.

    Untreated pain in a patient with advanced dementia can lead to secondary problems, such as sleep disturbances, weight loss, and depression. Pain may be manifested as agitation, increased confusion, and decreased mobility, which lead to more disability and a decrease ...

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