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Daily Pain Reported in 54 Percent of Dementia Patients

Older age and more dementia put patients at greatest risk

MONDAY, Dec. 18 (HealthDay News) -- More than 50 percent of patients with dementia report daily pain, and 46 percent may be receiving insufficient analgesia, according to research published in the December issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Joseph W. Shega, M.D., of Northwestern University in Chicago, and colleagues performed an observational cohort study of 115 dyads of community-dwelling dementia patients and their caregivers. They measured patients' reports of non-cancer pain, function, depression and cognition, and caregivers' reports of patient agitation and use of non-prescription and prescription medications.

Daily pain was self-reported in 62 patients (54 percent). Caregivers for more than half the dementia patients who reported daily pain did not report use of analgesics. Most caregivers who reported analgesic use noted patients used a World Health Organization Class I drug. Potentially insufficient analgesia was noted in 53 patients (46 percent). Undertreatment was linked with older age, poorer cognition and more daily living impairment.

"In this convenience sample from a geriatric clinic, many persons with dementia and non-cancer pain were not receiving pharmacological treatment. Those at greatest risk for insufficient analgesia were older, had moderate to severe dementia, and experienced impairments in activities of daily living," the authors conclude.

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