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Comment & Response
February 2014

What Is Discomfort in Persons With Dementia Who Are Agitated?—Reply

Author Affiliations
  • 1Minerva Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of End of Life, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Israel
  • 2Herczeg Institute on Aging, Tel-Aviv University, Israel
  • 3Innovative Aging Research, Silver Spring, Maryland
JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(2):292-293. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.11991

In Reply We thank Volicer and Hurley for their letter and applaud them for bringing issues concerning discomfort in dementia into public debate.

Our approach of examining sources of discomfort differs completely from that of Volicer and Hurley. Their approach involves examining discomfort signs such as facial grimaces. While their approach has indeed been used to detect discomfort, many of these signs and symptoms are also used to detect pain,1 reflecting an unclear distinction between the constructs. Examining these behaviors for detecting pain and discomfort is indeed essential to dementia care. Yet, examining the sources of discomfort alone is equally important because it uncovers discomfort even in persons not manifesting the aforementioned signs and because it directs caregivers toward means for remedying discomfort.

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