Journal of Gerontological Nursing

Interdisciplinary Care 

Mixed Behaviors In Dementia: The Need for a Paradigm Shift

Linda Buettner, PhD, CTRS; Suzanne Fitzsimmons, MS, ARNP

Abstract

What treatment approaches are best to treat a combination of apathetic and agitated behaviors? The answer may be the key to preserving quality of life in older adults with dementia.

ABSTRACT

This research was an examination of two specific types of behaviors, apathy and agitation, that commonly occur in older adults with dementia. In a retrospective analysis of existing data from two intervention projects, the authors explored the times and the types of behaviors occurring in 141 older adults living in the community, assisted living, and nursing home settings. The occurrence of apathetic and agitated behaviors was monitored throughout the day for a 2-week period. The result of the analysis suggests that in all stages and settings, a combination of apathy and agitation is the most common phenomenon, and that the predominant behavior actually fluctuates during the course of the day. The use of individualized interventions based on carefully monitored behavior patterns may provide a more sensitive approach to the overall treatment needs of individuals with dementia in the future.

Abstract

What treatment approaches are best to treat a combination of apathetic and agitated behaviors? The answer may be the key to preserving quality of life in older adults with dementia.

ABSTRACT

This research was an examination of two specific types of behaviors, apathy and agitation, that commonly occur in older adults with dementia. In a retrospective analysis of existing data from two intervention projects, the authors explored the times and the types of behaviors occurring in 141 older adults living in the community, assisted living, and nursing home settings. The occurrence of apathetic and agitated behaviors was monitored throughout the day for a 2-week period. The result of the analysis suggests that in all stages and settings, a combination of apathy and agitation is the most common phenomenon, and that the predominant behavior actually fluctuates during the course of the day. The use of individualized interventions based on carefully monitored behavior patterns may provide a more sensitive approach to the overall treatment needs of individuals with dementia in the future.

Authors

Dr. Buettner is Director and Ms. Fitzsimmons is Clinical Director, Interdisciplinary Center for Positive Aging, Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers, Florida.

Funded by the Alzheimer’s Association, Investigator Initiated Grant 2000-2003 and the Retirement Research Foundation 2001-2002.

Address correspondence to Linda L. Buettner, PhD, CTRS, Director Interdisciplinary Center for Positive Aging, Florida Gulf Coast University, 10501 FGCU Blvd. S., Fort Myers, FL 33965.

10.3928/00989134-20060701-03

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