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Pain assessment

Assessing pain in older people in residential aged care facilities

Trisha Dunning

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Abstract

The recognition of pain in older people can be complicated by the presence of dementia and misconceptions that pain is a part of ageing. Older people in residential aged care facilities should be assessed regularly for the presence of pain and managed accordingly.

Key Points

  • Increasing age is associated with a higher prevalence of pain. Older people in residential aged care facilities are at risk of unrecognised and undertreated pain.
  • Many reliable evidence-based pain assessment tools are available but self-report is the most reliable source of information about pain and may help in the diagnosis of the underlying cause of pain.
  • Cognitive impairment makes pain assessment challenging; observational and behavioural assessment methods are useful.
  • Pain has a significant adverse effect on a patient’s behaviour, physical and mental health, functioning, social relationships, self-esteem and quality of life.
  • It is important to treat the underlying cause of pain and to use appropriate treatments for the type of pain.

    Picture credit: Image Broker/Diomedia.com

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