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Pain in dementia: Prevalence, severity and detection

Pain is unfortunately common in people with dementia, and is often due, in part, to that person having difficulty communicating their pain to others. As a result, pain may be expressed through a range of behaviours such as aggression, impacting both the quality of life of the person with dementia and their carer(s). 

In this presentation, we discuss the importance of accurate identification of pain in people known to have both dementia and related behaviours. Specifically, this presentation will describe the prevalence, severity and impact pain has on clients of the national behaviour support service DementiaSupport Australia (DSA), and the tools used by DSA to identify these characteristics. 

For instance, DSA routinely uses the smartphone application PainChek® to detect pain in people with even the most severe dementia. PainChek® identifies pain by utilising facial recognition and artificial intelligence, removing the need for a person with dementia to communicate their pain. For example, PainChek has revealed that more than 65% of all clients visited by DSA may be in pain, and of those 48.4% experience moderate-severe pain. 

We report these findings in the context of encouraging regular pain assessment and optimal management in improving wellbeing for people with dementia.

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International Dementia Conference
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