Dementia is often seen in broad brush strokes – people forget where they live, forget their family, can’t find their keys…so much of what we read about dementia focuses on what we forget. But on reading this article in INSite I was fascinated to read that dementia can often result in people not being able to communicate that they’re in pain.

I have a toddler and I must say the frustration (and sometimes downright rage) that she exhibits when she cannot communicate with me is a source of stress and sometimes distress for both her and me. How often are older people who suffer from dementia, trapped inside their pain and frustrated that they cannot let us know what we can do to make them more comfortable?

Equally interesting was the outcome of the research that caregivers and Enrolled Nurses are often better at detecting pain in dementia sufferers than the Registered Nurse (RN). The reasons given for this are clear, but what this article doesn’t discuss is how the RNs feel about this? Do they wish they had more one to one time with residents?

What this really drives home to me is once again the importance of relationships in all settings; being able to read people’s body language, to know ‘in your gut’ that something is not right is a critical clinical tool. It’s a great shame that it’s not something we can really ‘teach’ either. These things just take time.

About Esther Perriam

Esther Perriam
Esther Perriam is a Director of Eldernet. She’s worked in the business for over 15 years and has been lucky to visit many of the older person’s services around the country. She’s never short of an opinion on…pretty much anything. Esther really loves reading and you’ll see plenty of book reviews authored by her. As a mother of two children there’s not much free time but if there is she also enjoys cooking (for grown-ups, not the kids!) and anything beach related in her spare time. Esther has presented at conferences around New Zealand and is happy to be contacted in regards to speaking or presenting at your event.