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Managing pain in residents living with dementia

South Australian not for profit aged and community care provider, Resthaven, is collaborating with researchers at Victoria's Monash University on a research project into pain management for residents living with dementia
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A South Australian not for profit aged and community care provider is collaborating with researchers at Monash University on a research project into pain management for dementia sufferers.

The study, titled Analgesic use, pain and daytime sedation in people with and without dementia in aged care facilities, aims to investigate the prevalence of, and clinical associations between, analgesic load, pain and daytime sedation in people with and without dementia in Australian residential aged care facilities.

Tina Emery, Resthaven executive manager, residential services, says people with dementia may express pain in many ways, such as displaying behavioural issues.

"Sometimes, these behavioural issues may be managed inappropriately with psychotropic medicines, such as antipsychotics and sedatives, which can in themselves have adverse effects, including increased risk of falls and fractures," Ms Emery says.

The findings of the study will be used to inform the development of strategies to improve the quality of life of people with dementia. Trained study nurses are now undertaking data collection for the research at Resthaven.

Tina Emery, of Resthaven, says the findings of the research will enable a better understanding of the prescribing practices of pain medication in aged
Tina Emery, of Resthaven, says the findings of the research will enable a better understanding of the prescribing practices of pain medication in aged
The key objective of the research, according to Ms Emery, is to develop new ways to alleviate suffering and behavioural symptoms associated with pain in people with dementia, who often experience and express pain differently.

"A broad range of outcomes and risk factors will be assessed. This will allow for generation and exploration of a range of hypotheses. The findings of this research will enable a better understanding of the prescribing practices in aged care facilities and will assist in the development of targeted pain management services for people with dementia," she says.

Resthaven invests in research through Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation. This research project is funded by a Resthaven Research Scholarship that was awarded to Simon Bell, Associate Professor, Centre for Medicine Use and Safety within the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Monash University.

Dr Bell is also Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of South Australia and Adjunct Professor of Geriatric Pharmacotherapy at Europe's University of Eastern Finland. He is now working with Resthaven clients and staff.

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