What are BPSD?

What  are  BPSD?

BPSD is an acronym that describes the behavior and psychological symptoms of dementia, non-cognitive symptoms that arise from dementia's disturbed perception, thought content, mood or behavior.

The list is long, including but not limited to:

  • aggressive, combative or threatening behavior
  • agitation, anxiousness
  • combativeness and threatening behavior
  • delusions, usually of infidelity, abandonment and theft
  • depression and withdrawal
  • eating inedible objects
  • hallucinations believed to be true
  • hiding and hoarding
  • inappropriate dressing/undressing
  • inappropriate urination/defecation
  • irrationally fearfulness
  • repetitive activity
  • tugging at seatbelts
  • vocally disruptive behavior
  • wandering 

These behaviors have normally been treated with antipsychotics, anti-anxiety drugs and mood management drugs. However, LBD's symptom of drug sensitivity drives care partners and Lewy-savvy physicians to look for other methods of treatment. Now experts are advocating that you try  "non-drug options" first with all, BPSD no matter the kind of dementia involved.[i]

When care partners think of these behaviors as indicators of unmet needs, or "stress-related communication," they can look for its underlying cause and remedy it, instead treating the behavior itself. This often leads directly to the use of the non-drug options, such as the more responsive communication or Responsive Care Partnering.

Find here a good article on BPSD.


[i] Cane, M. (2015) Elderly at risk when antipsychotic drugs used to treat dementia. The Columbus Dispatch  •  Monday November 2, 2015.

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