Current Treatment Options in Neurology

, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 765–785 | Cite as

Nonpharmacologic Treatment of Behavioral Disorders in Dementia

  • Jiska Cohen-Mansfield

Opinion statement

Dementia symptoms are often complicated by behavioral disorders such as repetitive verbalizations, aggressive behavior, and pacing. In clinical practice, the most common responses to behavioral disorders are pharmacologic, mostly using antipsychotic medication, or ignoring the behavior. However, multiple research studies support the notion that these behavioral disorders in dementia are related to unmet needs that can be addressed by nonpharmacologic interventions. Persons with dementia present multiple unmet needs, most commonly pain and discomfort, need of social contact and support, and need of stimulation that alleviates boredom. A wide range of interventions that address these needs has been investigated, though the rigor of the investigations varied greatly depending on factors related to the behavioral disorder, setting, and resource limitations. In practice, the avenues to address the unmet needs should depend on the person’s abilities and preferences. Thus, nonpharmacologic interventions that are individually tailored to the person with dementia comprise a superior response to behavioral disorders and should be at the frontline of treatment of these disorders.


Dementia Behavior problems Behavioral disorders Agitation Treatment Nonpharmacologic treatment Sensory interventions Massage Aromatherapy 



This work was supported in part by the Minerva-Stiftung Foundation grant no. 31583295000.

Compliance with Ethics Guidelines

Conflict of Interest

Jiska Cohen-Mansfield declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with animal subjects performed by the author. With regard to the author’s research cited in this paper, all procedures were followed in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000 and 2008.

References and Recommended Reading

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health Promotion, School of Public Health, Sackler Faculty of MedicineTel-Aviv UniversityTel-AvivIsrael
  2. 2.Herczeg Institute on AgingTel-Aviv UniversityTel-AvivIsrael
  3. 3.Minerva Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of End of LifeTel-Aviv UniversityTel-AvivIsrael

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