Pain: Precursor to Dementia. Cases Increasing Yearly

Research now shows a connection between chronic pain when you are younger and the development of dementia. The facts show that we experience changes in our health, body, and mind as we get older. Preparing is essential.

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Pain: Precursor to Dementia. Cases Increasing Yearly
4 Min Read April 17th, 2021

According to research funded by the National Institute of Aging, there appears to be a link between chronic pain and dementia later in life. According to the study, those with dementia may have experienced ongoing pain 16 years before their diagnosis. 

Many people who have dementia also have chronic pain. What is unclear, however, is whether chronic pain causes or accelerates the onset of dementia. Pain could be a symptom of dementia or be associated with dementia because some other factor causes both.

Researchers at Université de Paris have been analyzing data from an older research study that followed people for as many as 27 years. People diagnosed with dementia reported slightly more pain as early as 16 years before their diagnosis.

These participants reported steadily increasing pain levels relative to those who were never diagnosed with dementia. At the time of diagnosis, people with dementia reported significantly more pain than people without dementia.

Read more from the NIA.

Families in Crisis When Dementia Hits

Jack HannaDementia continues to be in the news if, for no other reason, many celebrities are affected by the disease. People can relate to celebrity families going through what many of us deal with in our families. Jack Hanna, the famed former director of the Columbus Zoo, has been one of the more recent celebrities coping with dementia.

Hanna was famous for his many TV appearances, but his family is being affected with dementia in the same ways every family experience when this crisis hits them.

The problems celebrity families face with long-term health care are like our own. They might have more financial resources, but the burdens and anxiety are common and experienced by all types of families.

Most Common Form of Dementia: Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. The Alzheimer's Association estimates that 5.8 million Americans 65 and older now have Alzheimer's. By 2025 they project that 7.1 million people will be diagnosed with Alzheimer's, an increase of nearly 22%. By 2050, this is projected to reach 13.8 million people with Alzheimer’s.

Some states will see a more significant increase because of demographics.  Some states will see a more substantial growth because of demographics. Older people tend to move after retirement, and states like Arizona will see significant increases in dementia in part of an influx of older adults moving into the state.

Projections of Total Number of American Age 65 and Older with Alzheimers by State

Proper Dementia Care Improves Quality of Life

The quality of the care a person receives reflects the overall quality of life a person suffers from dementia experiences. There seems to be a connection between chronic pain and dementia. There are other risk factors in addition to aging. The facts show that we experience changes in our health, body, and mind as we get older. Preparing is essential to ensure quality life, asset protection and reduce the stress and anxiety otherwise placed on family members.

Research has shown that the active management of Alzheimer's and other types of dementia improves the quality of life of those affected by dementia and their caregivers who provide the care. According to the Alzheimer's Association, active management of the disease includes:

• Appropriate use of available treatment options.

• Effective management of coexisting conditions. 

• Providing family caregivers with adequate training in managing the day-to-day life of the care recipient. 

• Participation in meaningful activities to the individual with dementia and bring purpose to his or her life. 

Risk Factors and Family History

Age is the most significant risk factor for developing any dementia. Most people who develop Alzheimer's dementia are age 65 or older. Greater longevity means a greater risk of suffering from a cognitive decline. Unfortunately, there is not a single cause for dementia. Age, genetics, and family history are the biggest factors of dementia.  

A family history of Alzheimer's does not mean an individual will develop the disease. However, people who have a parent or sibling (first-degree relative) with Alzheimer's dementia are more likely to develop the disease than those who do not have a first-degree relative with Alzheimer's, according to the Alzheimer's Association. Those who have more than one first-degree relative with Alzheimer's are at even higher risk.

Preparing for Aging and Dementia

Planning ahead for the future changes in a person's health, body, and mind has become a major part of retirement planning since health insurance, including Medicare, will not pay for most dementia care.

Long-term health care costs continue to grow, according to the LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator. Experts suggest including Long-Term Care Insurance to retirement planning. The guaranteed tax-free resources from the policy will allow access to your choice of quality care, including in-home care. For dementia care, this is important for a better quality of life, not to mention asset protection.

The time to plan is before retirement, ideally in your 40s or 50s, when you still enjoy relatively good health. A Long-Term Care Insurance specialist can assist you in finding the best coverage based on your specific situation. If you have a family history of dementia, this can be important as some companies will consider family history as part of the underwriting process. 

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About the Author

An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

LTC News Contributor James Kelly

James Kelly

Contributor since August 21st, 2017

Editor's Note

Aging happens. When you own an affordable Long-Term Care Insurance policy, you give your family a plan and the gift of time. Instead of being your caregiver, they remain your loved one. Professionals can provide care, but only family can give love.

Quality care, however, ensure you get your choice of quality care. Quality care results in a better quality of life. The costs of quality long-term health care can adversely affect your income, assets, lifestyle, and legacy.

Yes, long-term care costs drain assets and change lifestyles. Yes, long-term care is a cash flow issue. It is a significant cash flow problem. However, long-term care is also a family problem. Affordable Long-Term Care Insurance addresses both family and finances.

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Seek Help of a Qualified LTC Specialist

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