A woman smiling

But people with dementia may not be able to communicate that they are in pain. They may not understand what their pain signals mean or, if they do, they may not have the language to tell you about it.

They may show they’re in pain or discomfort by acting out in other ways, which the people who care for them may or may not understand. As a result the pain may go unnoticed and untreated.

Recognising pain

Recognising that someone with dementia is in pain is not always easy but there are some signs that could point towards them being unwell, or in pain or discomfort. These may include:

  • Changes in behaviour – they may seem withdrawn, lethargic, frustrated or even angr
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Crying
  • Flinching, facial or verbal expressions that indicate soreness in a particular part of the body
  • The person doesn’t want to move.

Treating pain

All signs of pain should be taken seriously. Always talk about your concerns with the person’s doctor who can check if something’s wrong and help you manage any pain or discomfort.

  • Booklet: Supporting a person with dementia Thumbnail Image

    Booklet: Supporting a person with dementia

    A guide for family/whānau and friends

    This booklet gives you information and tips on helping a person with dementia with their personal care, such as washing and dressing, nutrition, sleeping and travelling, as well as communication and ideas for meaningful activities and ways you can look after yourself – which is very important, too.