People living with cognitive decline are less likely to complain about any health problems, and so need more attention from health professionals, says a new study
Living with chronic pain is hard enough, especially as you get older, but it can be particularly difficult if you’re also living with dementia.
New research, presented at the Congress of the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) in Copenhagen, has found people with dementia and cognitive impairment are less likely to mention that they’re in pain, which could mean the health problem goes untreated.
Researchers conducted a study involving 452 people with an average of 65 who had been in treatment for diabetes. Of these people, 44% of them were cognitively impaired. A common complaint of diabetes is chronic pain in the limbs. They discovered that 56 people out of all study participants were in pain and two thirds of them were not cognitively impaired.
Dr Martin Rakusa from University Clinic in Maribor, Slovenia, where the study was conducted, said:
‘Cognitively impaired individuals or individuals with dementia evidently articulate their complaints less frequently. We therefore have to do more than just ask them about possible pain; we have to actively examine them to determine whether they are experiencing pain.’
If you have a loved one with another health condition – for example diabetes, arthritis, tooth ache or joint problems – make sure you take them for regular health check-ups. You can also use a pain assessment chart and get them to point out where they’re in pain if they’re unable to articulate it.