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Pain and Dementia: Observing Body Language Important When People Can't Articulate Pain


Photo credit Josh Appel

A number of years back, my dad, who had developed dementia after surgery to correct problems from a World War II brain injury, was seized by sudden, horrendous pain. While Dad had to cope with considerable pain from arthritis and some back issues, this was different. I knew his pain was acute and extreme by his body language and vocalizations, even though he couldn't articulate exactly what was wrong. Dad generally had the ability to communicate, though his dementia often skewed the information he was trying to share. However, this pain was more than he could put into words. He was writhing in utter agony, only able to moan and even holler in pain. Slowly, I realized that he thought he was being tortured...

Continue reading for more about how difficult it can be to determine pain (how much and where - and "if") when someone has dementia:

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