Evaluation of Verbal Behavior in Older Adults
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Approximately 5% of older adults have a dementia diagnosis, and language deterioration is commonly associated with this disorder (Kempler, 2005). Several instruments have been developed to diagnose dementia and assess language capabilities of elderly adults. However, none of these instruments take a functional approach to language assessment as described by Skinner (1957). The purpose of this study was to develop and evaluate a function-based assessment for language deficits of older adults. Thirty-one participants were categorized into a control group (n = 15) and a dementia group (n = 16) based on their score on the Dementia Rating Scale-2. Individuals with dementia performed significantly worse on the tact assessment than those without dementia. Participants from both groups performed better on measures of tacts than intraverbals or mands, even though topographically identical responses were required in these assessments. The data provide support for Skinner’s conceptualization of functionally independent verbal operants.
Key wordsolder adults dementia language assessment verbal behavior assessment
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