This article highlights the complex challenges seen when managing pain in patients with moderate or advanced dementia. Recent evidence demonstrates that pain is often poorly recognized and treated in patients with cognitive impairment. The progressive decline in cognitive function often leads to difficulties in expressing and recalling painful experiences. Making pain assessments routine and combining patient reports, caregiver reports, and direct observation may help alleviate this poor recognition of pain. Once pain is confirmed, a comprehensive history and physical examination are central in determining the underlying cause of pain and in choosing the best modality to treat the pain.
Key words: dementia, cognitive impairment, pain, opioids, assessment.