Persistent chronic pain undetected in half of people living with dementia

To coincide with World Alzheimer’s Day, pain assessment app PainChek has published a new report on pain and dementia.
By Sara Mageit
02:27 am

Australia-based AI-powered pain assessment company, PainChek, is working to raise awareness of the importance of effective assessment of pain in people with dementia.

The AI technology company has published a new report called ‘Pain and dementia: common challenges for care managers’, which investigates the relationship between pain and dementia,

The report also examines how pain affects the behaviour of people living with dementia, and the main issues with assessing pain and how these can be overcome.


A Department of Health study found that of 180,000 antipsychotic prescriptions for people living with dementia prescribed in the UK, close to 80%, or 140,000 individuals, were inappropriate.

“At least 50% of people living with dementia in the UK’s 18,000 care and residential homes regularly experience pain,” explains Professor Jeff Hughes, chief scientific officer at PainChek.

“Dementia affects around 850,000 people in the UK and is the country’s biggest killer. Currently, around 70% of care homes residents have dementia or memory problems. 80% of these suffer pain at any one time, and 50% experience persistent pain,” adds Professor Hughes.


In August, PainChek launched its new facial analysis technology in the UK, enabling care workers and clinicians to identify and manage pain in dementia impaired patients who struggle to communicate.

Last year, PainChek partnered with Ward MM to roll out national trial of pain assessment software to the Australian Residential Aged Care market and also received a A$5m grant for a national trial of its app.

The pain recognition app has been granted a US patent for pain assessment invention.


Professor Hughes said: “ Patients with dementia who cannot communicate their pain may have complex and/or subtle behavioural changes such as restlessness, changes in body language, speech and sleep patterns, appetite and facial expressions, all of which indicate the presence of pain.

“Many people with dementia struggle to communicate, so are frequently unable to verbalise their pain. This can lead to the emergence of behaviours and psychological symptoms like aggression, agitation, loss of inhibitions and anxiety, which are all too often attributed to the Alzheimer’s or other dementias, and not considered as an indicator of pain.”


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