Sometimes we have to live with the unknown. As the daughter of a man who occasionally suffered from these baffling episodes, I preferred the risk of medicating him for his chronic pain as well as his acute anxiety to knowing he was in agony, whether from physical or mental suffering. I wanted to stop his pain, as well as my own suffering and feeling of helplessness. For all reasons, I wanted Dad treated.
People who cannot verbalize their pain need to be watched closely and treated appropriately. Sometimes, “appropriate” is a challenging judgment call. When a person with dementia is suffering, we need to cover all of the bases. If treating them for physical pain while we handle their psychic issues is what needs to be done, then we need to double up and treat both potential problems. If we must risk erring on the side of overtreatment, I would take that risk.
A researcher is looking for people to participate in a study about the mental and emotional effects of chronic pain. The link above will take you to the study information if you’d like to investigate the opportunity.