senior showing signs of pain in dementia

Our loved ones with dementia may not be able to tell us if they’re in pain, but there are signs we can follow to know when help is needed.

The communication disconnect that often occurs in someone with dementia may make it difficult or impossible for a senior to describe what’s hurting. Or it could be that the senior has lost the ability to remember or recognize the sensation of pain. Sometimes, the fear of having to face a hospitalization, to take additional medications, or to be placed in a nursing home will prevent a senior from sharing the pain being experienced. It could even be just a matter of pride for a senior who is still able to communicate effectively but believes he or she should just manage the pain independently.

Whatever the reason, it’s important to know the signs to watch for and seek medical assistance to rule out any health-related concerns. In addition to those mentioned above, keep an eye out for signs such as:

  • Groaning or whimpering
  • Tense, grimacing, or frightened facial expressions
  • Crying
  • Calling out
  • Clenching fists
  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Becoming combative
  • Increasingly confused
  • Being inconsolable
  • Protecting a particular body part
  • Wandering/pacing/restlessness
  • Labored breathing and/or higher than usual heart rate or blood pressure

The senior may be experiencing pain from a chronic health condition, recovery from a surgical procedure or recent injury, an illness or infection, or simply an everyday issue such as constipation, stomachache, headache, etc.

If these or any other concerning behaviors are noted in a senior you love, contact his or her doctor immediately for help in addressing the root cause of the issue. There are a number of prescription-free ways that may be helpful (with the doctor’s approval and guidance), such as:

  • The use of cold packs or heating pads
  • Massage or gentle exercise
  • Air or gel cushions along with more frequent position changes
  • OTC pain relievers

Additionally, sometimes soothing activities can be helpful in distracting the senior from any discomfort, such as listening to favorite music or a book read aloud, visiting with a friend or family member, or pet therapy. Even just changing the senior’s environment by moving outside to the porch or garden may be all it takes to restore contentment.

The dementia care specialists at Atlanta Home Care Partners are skilled in detecting changes in condition in the seniors we serve and in keeping seniors with dementia comfortable, safe, and content. We provide the professional and compassionate home health care Decatur seniors and their families need. Our senior care team also serves locations throughout the Atlanta area. Contact us at 404.228.0103 for a trusted partner in care for a senior you love.