Background: Behavioral symptoms of dementia are common among residents in mainstream aged care settings, and have a substantial impact on residents and professional caregivers. This study evaluated the impact of individualized psychosocial interventions for behavioral symptoms through a small preliminary study.
Method: Interventions were delivered to a patient group of 31 psychogeriatric aged care residents who presented with behavioral symptoms of dementia that had failed to respond to pharmacological treatment approaches. Outcome data on severity of behaviors, health service utilization and staff burden of care were collected.
Results: A modest but significant reduction in staff ratings of the severity of aggressive and verbally agitated behavioral symptoms was found, with an associated reduction in their perceptions of the burden of caring for these patients. Reduced behavioral disturbance was associated with a reduction in the requirement for primary care consultations, and all participants were able to continue to reside in mainstream aged care facilities, despite an increase in the severity of dementia.
Conclusions: This study supported the use of individualized psychological strategies for behavioral symptoms at all stages of dementia. Methodological limitations of this preliminary study are discussed.