Posted September 26, 2017


Dementia care in Schaumburg recognize treating pain in seniors can be tricky due to communication difficulties and fear. Consult with a geriatric provider for a thorough assessment.
It is estimated that there are around 35 million seniors with dementia across the world, and approximately half of these individuals live with chronic pain. Chronic pain causes additional complications, especially for seniors with dementia, and can wreak havoc with medication management. The best approach is to reach out for specialized attention and treatment from those that work with older patients, and that is familiar with the earmarks of an underlying problem. Visit Senior Living Experts to schedule assessments and consults with providers in your area.

Some obstacles in treating pain among seniors with dementia include

  • An inability to verbalize the specific issue, pain, or problem. Aphasia can impede the senior’s verbal communication skills, which makes it difficult to identify.
  • Reluctance to report problems to providers or caregivers. Many seniors prefer to ‘suffer in silence’ and live quietly with the pain or discomfort. Patients will dementia may be suspicious or wary of providers and intervention.
  • Difficulty with memory causes obstacles in treatment and care. Furthermore, this may subsequently lead to a lack of reporting pain to caregivers and physicians.
  • Raised to not complain. For many seniors, reporting pain issues to providers goes against values and belief systems.
  • Fear of losing independence or of an undiagnosed issue. Experiencing pain or suspecting an illness can be scary- especially for older patients; many may believe that needing treatment could comprise autonomy.

Dementia care in Schaumburg recognize treating pain in seniors can be tricky; use these tips to help provide comfort for your loved one

Provide an easy means to measure pain levels

Seniors with dementia are often vague and ambivalent about pain, saying little and frequently unable to convey what they are experiencing. For this reason, it is necessary to provide a concrete and simplified means of expressing pain levels to their providers. This may be done with yes or no questions, careful observation, and a thorough health history from caregivers or family. It is important for these individuals to advocate for the senior and be persistent, and insist on further treatment to find the underlying causes when they believe their loved one is in pain or discomfort.

Watch for signs of problems

Loved ones and caregivers need to learn how to identify signs of pain, in seniors; these supports are in the best position to advocate for their senior since they are familiar with normal behaviors at base-line level of function. Watch for signs such as changes in behavior, constricted facial expressions, and mood swings; some other signs of pain in seniors with dementia include agitation, restlessness, and increased heart-rate. This discomfort and distress may be misinterpreted by providers that are unfamiliar with the senior, leading to inappropriate medications that could bring complications and risks to treatment and care of the patient.

Consult with those that know the senior best

Family in an invaluable resource when attempting to assess and treat seniors with dementia. These informal supports know the senior best, and can identify when something seems awry. Family should be involved and utilized in the treatment of seniors and when attempting to uncover if the patient is in pain, discomfort, or decline. Be wary of any provider or physician who overlooks family meetings or integration when seeing your senior.  Online reviews from previous patients, caregivers, and professionals can often shed light on the most empathetic and effective providers, as well as tease-out any potential issues that they have experienced when under a provider’s care or privy to a loved one’s treatment.

Seek geriatric pain management

Don’t run the risk of a provider without experience working with a geriatric population; visit a geriatric pain management professional for assessment and lab testing to rule out underlying causes of pain and discomfort. These providers will be able to identify and recognize issues specific to the senior, including the added obstacle of dementia, with specialized assessment tools that can help in diagnosing and treating your loved one. Be prepared to attend meetings with this specialist- and encourage caregivers to do the same- and take notes during appointments to ensure you have pertinent information that can make your senior more comfortable.
Get past the obstacles of dementia to treat chronic and acute pain with a specialized geriatric provider. Senior Living Experts offers an online resource to assess and identify providers in your area that can navigate the tricky territory of co-occurring conditions in senior patients- including pain issues and dementia. Advocate for your loved one with providers to obtain assessments designed for seniors with dementia; this will help to uncover any underlying issues that could be contributing to your loved one’s discomfort.

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