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The Gerontologist 45:406-410 (2005)
© 2005 The Gerontological Society of America

Pilot Study of Behavioral Treatment in Dementia Care Units

Peter A. Lichtenberg, PhD, ABPP1,, Julie Kemp-Havican, MSN2, Susan E. MacNeill, PhD, ABPP3 and Amanda Schafer Johnson, BA1

Correspondence: Address correspondence to Peter A. Lichtenberg, PhD, Professor of Gerontology & Psychology, Institute of Gerontology, Wayne State University, 87 E. Ferry Street, Detroit, MI 48202. E-mail: p.lichtenberg{at}

Purpose: This article reports on the development and use of behavioral treatment as a well-being intervention for individuals with dementia residing at special care units in a nursing home. Design and Methods: The project took place upon the construction and opening of two new homelike units for dementia care in a rural community-care center. Twenty older adults with Alzheimer's disease or related dementia diagnoses participated. One of the units was randomly selected for its residents to receive the behavioral treatment, and the other unit received usual care. A trained nursing assistant implemented the behavioral treatment three times per week for 20 to 30 min each session. The intervention lasted for 3 months. Measures taken before and after the intervention included depression and behavioral disturbance. Results: Compared with the usual care group, the behavioral treatment group demonstrated reduced severity in behavioral disturbance in terms of being troublesome to caregivers or dangerous to residents. Both the behavioral treatment and the usual care groups demonstrated a reduced frequency of behavioral disturbance overall. There were no differences with regard to depressive symptoms or diagnoses. The behavioral treatment was enthusiastically received by the facility staff and by the family caregivers of the participants.

Key Words: Dementia • Dementia care units • Well-being intervention

All GSA journals Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Copyright © 2005 by The Gerontological Society of America.