Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Psychology




Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Associate Professor Ed Helmes


Behaviour disorders are common among nursing home residents and the management of these problems is difficult and emotionally taxing for caregivers. Although widespread acknowledgment of the problem exists amongst those caring for the elderly, there has, until recently, been little formal investigation of these disorders in any systematic degree. This study investigated 63 nursing home residents (22 males and 41 females) in two primary diagnostic categories; those with vascular dementia and those with dementia due to other causes, primarily Alzheimer's disease. A review of the literature suggested that the nature and frequency of disruptive behaviour differed across these two prevalent forms of dementia. The level of cognitive impairment for each resident was assessed using the Mini Mental State Exam (MMSE). A two-week record of individual behaviours was recorded by nursing staff on a 24-hour shift basis, using the Cohen -Mansfield Agitation Index (CMAI). The results are generally consistent with earlier research demonstrating a negative correlation between cognitive impairment and aggression. However, no significant difference in behaviour was demonstrated between the two groups. Finally, a number of mediating variables is discussed in terms of their influence on the results.