Patient Personality Affects Success of PRN Medication


Because of their personality styles, some nursing home residents don’t ask for their PRN (as needed, or “per request of the nurse”) pain medication when they need it.  The reasons for this vary:

Psychologist, finding the resident in pain:  “Why didn’t you tell the nurse?”

Passive:  “I didn’t want to bother her.”

Macho:  (grimacing) “I can handle pain.”

Forgetful:  “I can ask for pain medication?”


  • Counseling the passive or macho types about appropriate use of their pain medication

The forgetful person and those who don’t respond to counseling would fare better with:

  • a standing order (medications dispensed at a specific time) 


  • by having the nurse ask the resident if they’re in pain every time they’re eligible to get pain medication

4 thoughts on “Patient Personality Affects Success of PRN Medication”

  1. As someone who routinely gives medication away, I can tell you that reminding the staff how important it is to keep resident's pain under control is crucial. Sometimes that dementia is really caused by uncontrolled pain.

  2. Dr. El — You would be an excellent resource for our senior living consultanting team. We are marketers, designers, architects, etc. who have come together to assist owners/operators with their senior living communities(long-term care, CCRC's, assisted living, and Alzheimer's). Glad to have stumbled upon your blog! Take care.

    Pivot Senior Living Experts

  3. Sue, if it's thought about, it's simple.

    K. Tree, you're absolutely right. The agitation we see in residents with dementia is often untreated pain. Nursing homes have a long history of under-treating pain, and regular staff education on the topic can reduce pain and make everyone's lives easier.

    Interesting, Greg. I'll have to check out your site.


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