Study: Nursing home residents with dementia receive less pain medication

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Residents with Alzheimer's and dementia in nursing homes are receiving fewer pain medications than other residents, despite having as many painful, co-morbid conditions, such as cancer and osteoarthritis, according to a new study from the University of North Carolina.

Researchers analyzed data from 551 residents at six nursing homes across North Carolina to reach their conclusions. Overall, 80% of residents with no impairment received pain medication at least occasionally, versus 56% of those who were the most severely impaired.

The findings do not indicate neglect or abuse on the part of the nursing home, rather an inherent difficulty in recognizing pain among their dementia-care residents, according to lead author Dr. Kimberly S. Reynolds. Authors suggest changing prescription pain medication instructions from "take as needed" to a more regular schedule.  
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