How can you tell when there is something wrong? When most people have an ache or pain they know that it is time to schedule a doctor visit. But a new Alzheimer’s study by Vanderbilt University shows that patients with Alzheimer’s are unable to realize they are in pain. We all have different pain thresholds, but not being able to realize you are in pain is something altogether different.
This study observed two groups, both over the age of 65 . One group had already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and the other group as not having the disease. Members of both groups were exposed to a device delivering varying heat sensations. The group diagnosed with Alzheimer’s was unable to detect heat until the temperatures were higher than the other group. Both groups reported pain, but the Alzheimer’s group found it harder to realize when they were in pain.
“While we found that their ability to detect pain was reduced, we found no evidence that people with Alzheimer’s disease are less distressed by pain nor that pain becomes less unpleasant as their disease worsens,” said study first author Todd Monroe, an assistant professor
at Vanderbilt’s School of Nursing.
As we age we develop more aches and pains, but sometimes these pains can be symptoms of a bigger problem that shouldn’t be ignored. If patients with Alzheimer’s take a longer time to report pain, doctors and caregivers need to expand their testing. This is important since as the disease progresses, patients have more difficulty responding verbally.
Approved Home Health’s geriatric care managers provide medical management – attending doctor appointments, facilitating communication between doctor, client, and family, and if appropriate, monitoring client’s adherence to medical orders and instructions. To learn more about all Approved Home Health’s programs, please call 941-870-8740.
New findings regarding Alzheimer’s are published almost daily, and the research is ongoing. The study published on BioMed Central can be found here.