Course of Neuropsychiatric Symptoms in Residents with Dementia in Nursing Homes Over 2-Year Period

Roland B. Wetzels*, Sytse U. Zuidema, Jos F. M. de Jonghe, Frans R. J. Verhey, Raymond T. C. M. Koopmans

*Corresponding author for this work

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Objective: To determine the course of neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPSs) in nursing home residents with dementia and to determine their variability across diagnosis. Design: Prospective cohort study over 2 years. Setting: Fourteen dementia special care units in nine nursing homes in The Netherlands. Participants: One hundred seventeen residents with dementia. Measurements: NPSs were measured using the Neuropsychiatric Inventory-Nursing Home version (NPI-NH). Results: The majority of residents had moderately severe to severe dementia. All but a few residents (97%) showed any NPS, and co-occurrence of NPSs was high. Agitation, irritability, and aberrant motor behavior were the most prevalent over the 2 years. Depression and anxiety as well as NPI total score decreased over time, whereas apathy tended to increase. Agitation and aberrant motor behavior were the most persistent symptoms. In asymptomatic residents, highest incidence rates were found for apathy, aggression/agitation, irritability, and aberrant motor behavior. Anxiety and apathy were more prevalent in Alzheimer disease (AD) compared with vascular disease (VaD); vice versa, aggression and depression were more prevalent in VaD. Differences in change over time between AD and VaD were found for irritability and disinhibition. Conclusion: This is the first study examining the 2-year course of NPSs in a large group of nursing home residents with dementia. Virtually all residents demonstrated and/or developed NPSs. Although affective symptoms decreased, apathy tended to increase. Agitated behaviors were particularly persistent. Our data may contribute to improve mental healthcare for demented nursing home residents. (Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 2010; 18: 1054-1065)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1054-1065
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


  • Course
  • neuropsychiatric symptoms
  • nursing home
  • dementia

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