Psychosocial Treatment of Depression in Older Adults with Dementia


Address correspondence to Linda Teri, Department of Psychosocial and Community Health, University of Washington, Box 358733, Seattle, WA 98195–8733. E-mail:


Depression and dementia commonly coexist and are associated with higher rates of behavioral and functional problems. Caregivers of these individuals report higher levels of physical and mental distress, as well. Effective treatment, therefore, has the potential to help both the older adult and their caregiver. This article provides an overview of the current literature on treatment of depression in demented older adults, with particular emphasis on providing guidelines for evidence-based clinical care. Eleven randomized controlled clinical trials were identified following an extensive review of the literature. These studies are reviewed with particular attention to the methodological issues of most relevance to clinicians attempting to use the findings from these studies to guide their practice. Issues of particular relevance when working with this population are also addressed, including (a) for assessment—differential and coexistent diagnosis of depression in dementia, use of collateral informants, self-report and interviewer-obtained information; and b) for treatment—the need for caregiver involvement, individualizing of goals, and planning for future deterioration of cognitive function.