A Review of Behavioural Gerontology and Dementia Related Interventions

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Josling, Megan
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Behavioural Gerontology is concerned with the interaction of the aging individual and their environment. One aspect of behavioural gerontology has focussed on the use of behaviourist methods to improve the functioning and quality of life of individuals with dementia. Positive reinforcement techniques have shown to have an effect on dementia related behavioural excesses (wandering, disruptive vocalisations), behavioural deficits (incontinence, self feeding) and mood changes (depression). One of the major concerns of using reinforcement techniques in the case of dementia is maintenance of the behavioural changes with the continual implementation of the intervention. Research has indicated that individuals with dementia meet behavioural extinction criteria at an advanced rate in comparison with individuals without dementia. Thus for a behavioural change to be successfully maintained it requires diligence on the part of the caregiver and/or nursing home staff. In the case of dementia care centres and nursing homes, when using behavioural interventions to modify the behavioural symptoms of dementia, there needs to be a considerable overlap between Behavioural Gerontology and Organisational Behavioural Management to ensure the successful maintenance of behavioural change. Author keywords: Gerontology; Gerontology literature; Dementia; Senile dementia; Alzheimer’s disease; Psychophysiology; Operant behaviour; Organizational behaviour