AU researcher helps assess pain in frail elderly with dementia
When Dr. Jennifer Knopp-Sihota first began working with frail, elderly patients with dementia, she was struck by how hard it was to tell if they were in pain. Many would scream or act out with their caregivers because they couldn’t communicate in other ways.
Knopp-Sihota, a nurse practitioner who works in long-term care, began studying how to better assess pain in dementia patients as part of her research as an associate professor at Athabasca University (AU), funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR).
“I really started to feel helpless because we weren’t caring for them well enough. I began to feel like we needed to do better for our patients,” she says. “This is really important because our population is aging.”
As more people with dementia end up in nursing homes, understanding, assessing, and managing their pain becomes critical—particularly for patients who can’t advocate for themselves, she says.
“They have worked and contributed to our society for years, and now we owe it to them.”
Read more about Jennifer Knopp-Sihota and her research on The Hub.