Behavior, Observation and Functioning

Behavioral Observation

Observation notesCaregivers of persons with cognitive impairment may be troubled by care-recipients’ agitated or disruptive behaviors. To begin assisting those caregivers in handling those behaviors, psychologists frequently ask them to record their observations, using  a simple form that notes the time-of-day, environmental context and description of the behavior, or using scales such as the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory.

Problem Behavior Checklists

Sometimes as part of the assessment of the caregiver, it is necessary to assess the extent of the problems being experienced by the care receiver. The following are examples of measures of the extent of deficits experienced by patients with dementia. Having specific knowledge of the extent of the care recipient’s problems can help in effective planning, thereby reducing burdens on the caregiver.

Daily Functioning

Care recipients’ day to day functioning is often a source of concern or burden for the caregiver, and thus is an important focus of assessment. Several measures are available to elicit reports of daily functioning from the caregiver or professional raters, including the following examples.

Decision Making Capacity

The American Psychological Association and the American Bar Association (ABA) collaborated on an ambitious project to define appropriate conceptual frameworks and strategies for assessing decision-making capacity.

One result of this collaboration is a handbook for psychologists: Assessment of older adults with diminished capacity: A handbook for psychologists.

An ABA toolkit on making is also available. See also the Alzheimer’s Association’s Planning Ahead.