Descriptive assessment and functional analysis of problem behaviour among individuals with dementia
Functional analysis is a method of behavioural assessment used to determine the environmental variables maintaining a specific behaviour. While functional analysis is often used with individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities, problem behaviours in people with dementia are rarely assessed using functional analysis methodology. The purpose of the present study was to conduct descriptive and functional analyses of problem behaviours among individuals with dementia to determine: (a) if a descriptive assessment would identify a function of the challenging behaviour assessed; (b) the extent to which stimuli identified in the descriptive assessment were needed to conduct a functional analysis; and (c) if a standard functional analysis is an effective assessment method for this population. The participants were two individuals with dementia who exhibited inappropriate vocalizations, consisting of swearing and delusional speech. For both participants, the results of the descriptive assessments suggested that the function of the behaviour was positive reinforcement in the form of attention from staff members. The findings of the descriptive analyses were confirmed in the functional analyses. The results suggest that a functional analysis informed by a descriptive analysis can identify the function of problem behaviour in individuals with dementia in a residential setting.