Managing Problem Behaviors Associated with Dementia


  • Ruth Remington PhD APRN BC,

    Assistant ProfessorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Ruth Remington, PhD APRN BC, is an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. She is an adult and gerontological nurse practitioner with extensive clinical experience in care of older adults in an office practice, in home care, in the nursing home, and acute care hospital. Her area of research is in dementia, with particular interest in non-pharmacological interventions to manage agitation.

  • Lisa Abdallah PhD RN,

    Assistant ProfessorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Lisa M. Abdallah, Phd RN, holds a masters of science in nursing with nursing administration and gerontological nursing focus, and has previous experience as a staff development coordinator and director of nursing in a long term care facility. She is an assistant professor in nursing, teaching a clinical rotation with nursing students on a Medicare-certified unit in long-term care facility. Her dissertation research focused on NP/MD collaborative primary care delivery model in nursing homes. Dr. Abdallah's current area of research focused on quality improvement in nursing homes, health promotion, and risk reduction in the elderly.

  • Karen Devereaux Melillo PhD APRN BC FAANP,

    Associate of Science DegreeSearch for more papers by this author
    • Karen Devereaux Melillo, PhD APRN BC FAANP, holds an associate of science degree, nursing, from Massachusetts Bay Community College, a bachelor of science degree, nursing, from Salem State College, a master of science degree, in gerontological nursing, University of Lowell, and a doctorate in social policy from Brandeis University.

  • Jane Flanagan PhD APRN BC

    Assistant ProfessorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Jane Flanagan, PhD APRN BC, is an assistant professor of nursing at Boston College Connell School of Nursing where she teaches in the adult and geriatric nurse practitioner program. She has previously taught in both the undergraduate and graduate programs at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. She was the first Carol Ghiloni Nursing Faculty Fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and is an associate clinical scientist at the Phyllis Cantor Center at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. She has worked at MGH for over 20 years in a variety of clinical settings and continues to maintain a clinical practice there on the General Clinical Research Unit as a nurse practitioner. She has provided guest lectures at several Boston area colleges and hospitals on a variety of nursing care issues including health assessment, laboratory values, and caring environments. Her research interests are bearing witness to illness, spirituality, palliative care, the patient experience during and after hospitalization, and the integration of nursing theory and aesthetics into nursing models of care.


The older adult with dementia who exhibits problem behaviors is likely to be experiencing physical or psychological distress. Both can negatively affect the health, rehabilitation, and quality of life for the older adult. Managing problem behaviors can challenge the skills of the most experienced nurse. Being able to identify the origins of these behaviors can help caregivers respond in a way that will achieve behavioral management and preserve the dignity of the older adult. This article presents some practical measures to assist nurses with minimizing the negative effects of dementia-associated problem behaviors in older adults.