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.