Assessing and managing pain in older people with dementia
Intended for healthcare professionals

Assessing and managing pain in older people with dementia

Karen Harrison Dening Head of research and publications, Dementia UK, London, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To enhance your understanding of how to identify and assess pain in people with dementia

  • To consider approaches that could be used to manage pain in people with dementia

  • To contribute towards revalidation as part of your 35 hours of CPD (UK readers)

  • To contribute towards your professional development and local registration renewal requirements (non-UK readers)

There is little evidence to suggest that people with dementia experience less pain than those without dementia, however they are less likely to report their pain due to the cognitive impairments they experience as their dementia progresses. A comprehensive pain assessment that involves family members, carers and/or friends in the process is crucial to gain an understanding of a person’s medical and pain history, and to ensure effective pain management in people with dementia. This article describes the identification, assessment and management of pain in older people with dementia. The author includes a fictional case study with the aim of supporting nurses to reflect on possible indicators of pain in a person with dementia and to consider the tools they may use when identifying and assessing this pain.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2023.e12165

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software


Conflict of interest

None declared

Harrison Dening K (2023) Assessing and managing pain in older people with dementia. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2023.e12165

Published online: 14 August 2023

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