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“Untreated Pain can lead to Depression, Fear, Anxiety, and Suicide”

Pain should never be considered a "normal" part of the aging process. Pain can be a sign of a serious problem and should never be left untreated or undertreated. Both untreated and undertreated pain can lead to depression, fear, anxiety, and even suicide. An important safeguard some families may want to consider is an asset protection plan - by preserving assets in contemplation of Medicaid down the road, extra items and services can be obtained as needed - items and services which could otherwise be unaffordable and not paid for by Medicaid.

Overmedication of the elderly has been widely reported and is an issue that many seniors, caregivers, and family-members take seriously. On the other hand, under treatment of pain can lead to equally serious consequences, both for the patient and the caregiver alike. According to a recent study, as many as 40% to 80% of elderly nursing home residents are inadequately treated for pain;[1] undertreating the pain of an elderly patient has been considered a form of elder abuse.[2]

According to the American Geriatric Society,[3] "pain has no objective biological markers." It is essential for caregivers and family members to recognize signs of pain.

If communication is problematic, look for:

Audible discomfort (cries, moans, shrieks)
Distress when touched in certain areas
Uncharacteristic immobility[4]
Fortunately, there are legal mechanisms to achieve peace of mind for you or a loved one. Services offered by a local Certified Elder Law Attorney can protect assets and provide peace of mind. Protected assets do not have to be "spent down" in connection with entry into a nursing home. Once Medicaid is paying for long-term care, the protected funds can be used to purchase items not covered by Medicaid, which can include the hiring of a "helper" or "sitter" to monitor an individual for signs of pain, medication administration, and more. Other things not covered by Medicaid include hearing aids, glasses, and dental work.

The goal of any Elder Law Attorney should be to keep his client's interests at the forefront of all conversations related to asset protection. If you or a loved one is experiencing pain - or if you believe a loved one is experiencing pain but you are not sure, your first step should be to contact a licensed Medical Practitioner immediately, and then call your local Elder Law Attorney.

[1] [CITE TO (Roberto Bernabei, MD et al., JAMA 1998; 279(23); Cancer Pain Release, World Health Organization; Facts on Dying, Brown University).]


[3] American Geriatric Society (Effective Pain Management in Older Patients, AORN, Jan. 2000



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