Nonpharmacologic management of behavioral symptoms in dementia

Laura N. Gitlin, Helen C. Kales, Constantine G. Lyketsos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

218 Scopus citations

Abstract

Behavioral symptoms such as repetitive speech, wandering, and sleep disturbances are a core clinical feature of Alzheimer disease and related dementias. If untreated, these behavior scan accelerate disease progression, worsen functional decline and quality of life, cause significant caregiver distress, andresult in earlier nursing home placement. Systematic screening for behavioral symptoms in dementia is an important prevention strategy that facilitates early treatment of behavioral symptoms by identifying underlying causes and tailoring a treatment plan. First-line nonpharmacologic treatments are recommended because available pharmacologic treatments are only modestly effective, have notable risks, and do not effectively treat some of the behaviors that family members and caregivers find most distressing. Examples of nonpharmacologic treatments include provision of caregiver education and support, training in problem solving, and targeted therapy directed at the underlying causes for specific behaviors (eg, implementing nighttime routines to address sleep disturbances). Based on an actual case,we characterize common behavioral symptoms and describe a strategy for selecting evidence-based nonpharmacologic dementia treatments. Nonpharmacologic management of behavioral symptoms in dementia can significantly improve quality of life and patient-caregiver satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2020-2029
Number of pages10
JournalJAMA - Journal of the American Medical Association
Volume308
Issue number19
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 21 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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