Initial research suggests that taking the painkiller acetaminophen can help improve the social behaviour of those suffering from dementia.
The studies showed that giving elderly patients a controlled dose of the painkiller made them more socially active and engaged in everyday life, indicating that pain control is a necessary part of dementia treatment.
Those with moderate to severe symptoms became more interested in listening to music, reading or watching TV, helping them to interact on a more conscious basis.
"Pain treatment in this group may facilitate engagement with the environment," the authors of the study, carried out at Saint Louis University School of Medicine in Missouri, wrote in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
"With further research and more aggressive treatment of pain, nursing home residents with dementia may be helped to lead more interactive lives."
Organisers of the study believe that although chronic pain in the elderly is well documented, forms of dementia prevent patients from communicating this pain and therefore worsen problems such as depression and inactivity.