Verbal and physical non-aggressive agitated behaviors in elderly persons with dementia: Robustness of syndromes

Jiska Cohen-Mansfield, Alexander Libin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Objective: More than a decade ago, different syndromes of agitation were identified in elderly nursing home residents, and it was found that these syndromes correlate with medical, cognitive, and psychosocial functioning. The present study was conducted to examine the robustness of two major syndromes, verbal agitation and physical non-aggressive agitation, as assessed via direct observations. Methods: Study participants were 175 elderly persons with dementia recruited from 11 nursing home facilities in Maryland. Observations of the participants' behavior were conducted using the agitated behaviors mapping instrument. Results: The profiles that emerged for physically agitated residents and for verbally agitated residents were remarkably similar to those originally reported. Specifically, verbally agitated behaviors correlated with female gender, with cognitive decline, poor performance of activities of daily living, impaired social functioning, and signs of depressed affect. Physically non-aggressive agitated behaviors correlated with cognitive impairment and with fewer concurrent medical diagnoses. Conclusions: Examining correlates of different syndromes of agitated behaviors may provide researchers with valuable information that can be used for in-depth analysis of both the characterization and etiology of agitation, thus paving the way for the development of interventions that target particular types of problem behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-332
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2005
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
National Institute on AgingAG 10172-09, R01AG010172


    • Agitation
    • Behavior problems
    • Dementia


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