A Tool to Measure Pain in Persons with Dementia

I attended a workshop this morning called “Challenging Behaviors and Creative Responses” led by Dan Kuhn, LCSW and author of Alzheimer’s Early Stages: First Steps for Family, Friends and Caregivers. I learned a few tips, which I’ll share over the next few days.

Today, I wanted to share a tool clinicians use to measure pain in persons with dementia who, as the disease progresses, often cannot share the cause and severity of their pain. The tool, called Pain Assessment in Advanced Dementia (PAINAD) scale, measures five specific indicators of pain: the caree’s breathing, vocalization, facial expression, body language, and consolability.

Although a tool for clinician, you may find it helpful. You can find the scale and a case study use of it at NursingCenter.com.

It’s awful to wonder what’s wrong with your caree and not know if your caree feels pain. And, pain, Dan said, can be a trigger which leads to challenging behavior. He suggested that a common ailment as we age—arthritis—may not be treated appropriately in persons with dementia. Their untreated pain may create behavior such as agitation. Understanding your caree’s pain can help you discuss treatment options with your caree’s physician.

After you’ve had a chance to review the scale, share your thoughts about whether you think it will be helpful in our comments section, below.

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About Denise Brown

I began working with family caregivers in 1990 and launched CareGiving.com in 1996 to help and support them. Through my blog, I share words of comfort and offer coping strategies and tips. I also write opinion pieces about recent research, community programs and media coverage of caregiving issues. I've written several caregiving books, including "The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey," "Take Comfort, Reflections of Hope for Caregivers" and "After Caregiving Ends, A Guide to Beginning Again." You can purchase my books and schedule a coaching call with me in our store.

One thought on “A Tool to Measure Pain in Persons with Dementia

  1. Bette

    My mother is having more difficulty with words, forming them and finding the right word that fits. I think this scale would be so helpful: in reassurance for the caree–that their needs will be tended to, and for those caring for him or her.


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