International Psychogeriatrics

Focus on mental health issues in long-term-care homes

Psychosocial interventions for dementia patients in long-term care

Myrra Vernooij-Dassena1 c1, Emmelyne Vassea2, Sytse Zuidemaa2, Jiska Cohen-Mansfielda3 and Wendy Moylea4

a1 Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Kalorama Foundation, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

a2 Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

a3 Herczeg Institute on Aging and Department of Health Promotion, School of Public Health, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel and Department of Health Care Sciences, George Washington University Medical Center and School of Public Health, Washington, DC, U.S.A.

a4 Research Centre for Clinical and Practice Innovation, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia


Background: Psychosocial interventions in long-term care have the potential to improve the quality of care and quality of life of persons with dementia. Our aim is to explore the evidence and consensus on psychosocial interventions for persons with dementia in long-term care.

Methods: This study comprises an appraisal of research reviews and of European, U.S. and Canadian dementia guidelines.

Results: Twenty-eight reviews related to long-term care psychosocial interventions were selected. Behavioral management techniques (such as behavior therapy), cognitive stimulation, and physical activities (such as walking) were shown positively to affect behavior or physical condition, or to reduce depression. There are many other promising interventions, but methodological weaknesses did not allow conclusions to be drawn. The consensus presented in the guidelines emphasized the importance of care tailored to the needs and capabilities of persons with dementia and consideration of the individual's life context.

Conclusions: Long-term care offers the possibility for planned care through individualized care plans, and consideration of the needs of persons with dementia and the individual life context. While using recommendations based on evidence and consensus is important to shape future long-term care, further well-designed research is needed on psychosocial interventions in long-term care to strengthen the evidence base for such care.

(Received January 04 2010)

(Revised February 15 2010)

(Revised June 03 2010)

(Accepted June 07 2010)

(Online publication September 03 2010)


c1 Correspondence should be addressed to: Prof. Dr. M. Vernooij-Dassen, Kalorama Foundation and Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, P.O. Box 9101, 114 IQ healthcare, 6500 HB Nijmegen, Geert Grooteplein 21, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Phone: +31 24-3666265; Fax: +31 243540166. Email: