Peer Reviewed
Pain assessment

Assessing pain in people with dementia

Steven M Savvas, Stephen J Gibson
Mrs Watson is 85 years old, lives in a nursing home and has moderately severe dementia. She has occasional falls and no longer walks. Her talk is often confused and she is resistive to nursing staff during her morning shower. Occasionally she is found crying. Could she be in pain?
Key Points
  • Dementia can be a significant barrier in pain assessment.
  • Self-report scales may still be appropriate for people with dementia.
  • If self-report is not possible, proxy scales and behavioural observation scales may be necessary.
  • Mobilisation is critical for an effective pain assessment in people with dementia.
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