Experts testify about Alzheimer's and pain

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Dr. Patricia A. Grady
Dr. Patricia A. Grady
Self-reporting comes up short when attempting to uncover pain levels in seniors with Alzheimer's disease, a top U.S. healthcare expert testified before a Senate panel in December.

Further discussion could lead to the development of new methods for dealing with this pain.

Dr. Patricia A. Grady told the Committee on Aging of the difficulty that can occur when trying to identify symptoms of pain in adults with advanced dementia. Grady, director of the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Nursing Research, emphasized the importance of treating that pain. She cited a study that discussed the discrepancy between observed pain behaviors in patients with dementia and patients without.

“Cognitively impaired older adults self-reported less intense pain after movement activities, such as walking and sitting, than cognitively intact older adults,” she explained at the Dec. 8 hearing. “However, behavioral observations of pain, such as grimacing and verbal complaints, showed no differences between the two groups.”

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