Understanding and Responding to Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia

Last Reviewed: August 1, 2018

What You’ll Learn

  1. Understand that behavioral symptoms of dementia are a form of communicating unmet needs, untreated symptoms, or other distress
  2. Describe the difference between behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia and the different patient, caregiver, and environmental factors that can lead to these symptoms
  3. Employ a framework for finding the root cause of behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia, and describe both non-pharmacological and pharmacological responses to these symptoms

This course was created with generous support from the nonprofit Gary and Mary West Health Institute.

What You’ll Earn

CAPC members can earn the following free continuing education credits:

  • Case Management: 1.00 CE
  • Licensed Professional Counselors: 1.00 CE
  • Medicine: 0.75 CME, 0.75 ABIM MOC (Medical Knowledge Only)
  • Nursing: 1.00 CNE, 0.40 Pharmacotherapy
  • Social Work: 1.00 CE (NASW)
  • Social Work: 1.00 CE (NYSED)

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Tools & Resources

Dementia Care Resources for Caregivers

Last Updated: March 21, 2019

Print or email this handout of caregiver resources for education and support.


Common Pharmacologic Therapies Used to Treat Behavioral Symptoms of Dementia

Last Updated: January 29, 2019

Evidence-based indications, benefits, and cautions for using medication to treat the behavioral symptoms of dementia. Center to Advance Palliative Care, 2018.


Course References: Understanding and Responding to Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia

Last Updated: July 7, 2019

Course citations. Center to Advance Palliative Care, 2018.

Cindy Barton, MSN, GNP, BC. Nurse Practitioner, UCSF Memory and Aging Center.

Andrew E. Esch, MD, MBA. Consultant Center to Advance Palliative Care.

Stefanie Bonigut, LCSW. Family Services Manager. Alzheimer's Association of Northern California and Northern Nevada.

Jim Palmer, MSW, LCSW. Palliative Care Social Worker. Mount Sinai Hospital.

Marta Kazandijan, MA, CCC-SLP, BSC-S. Director, Division Speech Pathology and Swallowing. New York Presbyterian Queens and Silvercrest Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation.

Gina Decker. Caregiver.

Constance Dahlin, MSN, ANP-BC, ACHPN, FPCN, FAAN. Consultant, Center to Advance Palliative Care.

Melissa Bakar, MD. Assistant Professor, Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.*

Komal D’Souza, MD. Palliative Medicine, Northwestern Medicine. *

Nora Brennan, RN. Cardiology. University of Pennsylvania Hospital System.

Timothy Adams, RN. Palliative Care. Tanner Medical Center.

Kristin Chouinard, RN, CHPN. Gerontology. North Shore Elder Services, Partners Healthcare.

Philip Higgins, PhD, LICSW. President, Lighthouse Counseling of Salem, Inc.

*indicates ABIM Peer Reviewer

Contact information: For technical questions about online activity or continuing education credits, contact membership@capc.org or 212-201-2674.

Provided by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

The Courses

Discussing Your Patient’s Dementia Diagnosis

Disclosing a dementia diagnosis to patients and caregivers in a way that is sensitive, clear, and s…

Communicating About What to Expect as Dementia Progresses

Helping patients and caregivers understand challenges they may face as dementia worsens.

Planning for the Future with People Living with Dementia and Their Caregivers

Enabling patients and caregivers to plan ahead for the financial, legal, and other impacts of demen…

View all courses in the unit

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