The Role of Behavior Analysis in the Rehabilitation of Persons with Dementia

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With the rapidly aging population, it is expected that increases in cases of dementia will double over the next 20 years. Currently, there is no cure for diseases such as Alzheimer's disease or frontotemporal dementia (FTD) that cause progressive dementia, and only a few pharmacological interventions that slow the progression of the decline exist. Given that there is no cure available, a rehabilitation approach that emphasizes maintaining existing abilities and removing excess disability (as opposed to emphasizing cure or recovery) for as long as possible is warranted. The current paper proposes that nonpharmacological rehabilitation efforts need to target 5 broad areas/targets: memory enhancement, altering social contingencies and communication styles, improving self-care skills, the arrangement of physical environments to maintain and improve functioning, and increasing physical fitness/physical activity. The purpose of this paper is to review specific behaviorally oriented interventions that target these 5 areas and show promise for inclusion in comprehensive rehabilitation efforts for individuals with dementia.



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Behavior Therapy