Recognizing & Managing Pain

by MichelleR on April 19, 2013

Managing pain is an essential part of providing quality care.  You want to be able to do whatever you can to keep your loved one or client as comfortable as possible so that they can live their life to the fullest.  However, sometimes it is difficult for the elderly to communicate that they are in pain, or to describe the pain that they are feeling and where it is located.  Regularly monitoring changes in condition or behavior is a great way to gauge any signs or symptoms of pain.  The following are examples of signs of pain to look out for:

The more direct signs-discomfort

Moaning, crying, screaming, loud sighing/breathing, acts out in aggression, guarding a body part, does not want to be touched in the area that hurts

The more indirect signs-  These signs could be a result of pain, but it is also possible that the following signs could be pointing at other issues.

Frowning; Feeling sad, angry, depressed, hopeless; staying in the same position to avoid pain related to that movement; lack of appetite; increased or decreased amount of sleep; restless and uncomfortable


There are a couple of important things to remember when you are considering another person’s pain.  First, the level of pain felt is relative to each individual. So whether you are working with a client or your own loved one, be mindful of how THEY are feeling and do not project how you have experienced or perceive pain.  It is absolutely crucial that you put your own thoughts to the side and LISTEN to what your loved one or client is trying to express to you about their pain.  If we neglect to listen (and this includes non-verbal communication) then you are not providing the best quality care and creating a disservice to the individual.  Keeping detailed documentation of behavior changes and changes in condition can help you determine when the pain is real, or being exaggerated.


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