Mountain Lake

Pain Assessment

If you communicate well about your pain, you will get better care from your healthcare providers. It is common to become emotional when talking about pain. The pain assessment worksheet guides you through the questions that your healthcare provider should be asking you.

Pain Assessment Worksheet

Complete this worksheet before going to your appointments, so you have the information prepared in advance. Then you can spend more time talking about what to do about it.

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Pain Assessment Tool


There is more to the overall pain experience than what is included in the pain assessment worksheet. It can be very helpful to have a multidimensional assessment that also asks about your mood, sleep, and function. Complete and score this assessment tool before your healthcare provider appointments to make sure that all important aspects of your experience are being addressed.

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Values Worksheet


Next, we will focus our attention on the inner resources that you bring to this experience. This starts with learning more about yourself and what makes you a unique and resilient individual. Complete this worksheet to help discover what matters to you.

The VIA Institute on Character provides another resource to explore and identify your character strengths. It can be found here.

As you move on to setting goals and making action plans, reflect on your values and character strengths. Make use of them to guide your direction and to keep you on course. When you don’t have the physical ability and energy to do everything, you must make deliberate choices so you don’t expend your precious energy on duties and tasks that are unimportant to you.

Pain in Older Adults with Dementia

Managing pain in older adults with moderate to severe dementia can be particularly difficult because the person may not be able to say that they have pain. The individual with pain may be very distressed and sometimes will display disruptive behaviours that can distract caregivers from recognizing the underlying cause of their distress.


If the individual can confirm the experience of pain, then this is a self-reported pain assessment. If this is impossible or unreliable, then there is another way to reliably track pain using an observational assessment.

Here is a link to PAINAD, a validated observational pain assessment and pain log for older adults with dementia.

PAINAD can be used both by healthcare professionals and caregivers. It is frequently used in long-term care settings, but it can also be used in any setting where an individual with dementia lives and receives care. It might be surprising to know that it is common for older adults with dementia to receive no analgesic medication or other treatment even though they have known health conditions or receive medical procedures that are associated with pain.


The regular use of a pain assessment leads to more consistent and compassionate care. It is also associated with lower caregiver stress, possibly because when pain is recognized and better managed, agitation and disruptive behaviours tend to decrease.

© 2018 by Society of Alberta Occupational Therapists


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The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.