Assessment and management of pain in older adults with dementia: a review of current practice and future directions

Curr Opin Support Palliat Care. 2008 Jun;2(2):128-32. doi: 10.1097/SPC.0b013e3282ffb406.


Purpose of review: The purpose of this paper is to consolidate the literature around pain assessment and management in older adults with dementia and to make recommendations for future research and practice developments. This review is provided following the introduction of guidelines for the assessment of pain that were published last year.

Recent findings: The key issues that have been identified from the literature and will be discussed in this paper are assessment, pharmacotherapy, complementary therapies, education and guidelines.

Summary: Pain in older adults has received increasing attention within the literature during the last decade, and in the past 12 months, there have been a number of papers published that highlight several key issues in the area. In terms of pharmacology and complementary therapies, there is still a need to evaluate their use in older adults in general. We have seen guidelines introduced and we need to consider how well these are being implemented. However, most importantly, we are now seeing increasing evidence supporting the use of three behavioural pain assessment scales, which look promising for the future.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Complementary Therapies
  • Dementia / complications*
  • Dementia / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain / complications
  • Pain / diagnosis*
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain Measurement
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Analgesics