Detecting often undiagnosed pain in people with dementia

September 02, 2009

The elderly who suffer from dementia aren't able to say when something hurts or is sore. They may demonstrate their pain through behaviours like rocking or striking out, and we often dismiss these actions as symptoms of the dementia instead of pain, which is usually from a different problem. Arthritis, diabetic neuropathy, fractures, muscular contractures, bruises, abdominal pain and mouth ulcers are among the list of common ailments that go undetected. It is important for those who live or work with persons with dementia to know how to identify when an elderly person is experiencing pain--and receive treatment sooner rather than later.

The University of Alberta's Cary Brown, PhD, has a new tool to help. She has developed an online workshop and toolkit for caregivers, health-care providers, family members and friends of people with dementia.

The researcher from the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine created an evidence-based website with a narrated presentation on pain and dementia, a downloadable resource pack for family members, a downloadable pain log and a facilitator's toolkit with background material, a planning guide, promotional material and supplemental information for organizations who wish to put on a workshop.
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The online workshop and toolkit are available at: www.painanddementia.ualberta.ca

Brown is available for interviews about the website. Interviews with family members of individuals living with Alzheimer's can also be arranged.

University of Alberta

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