Behavior Analysis

Behavior analysts observe and measure socially signifiant behaviors and then identify their relationships with environmental and biological variables.


Dementia is a slow and progressive decline in short-term memory that interferes with daily life. Its wide range of symptoms affects memory, language, judgment, and behavior.


Many of us are caregivers -- to individuals with dementia and other medical issues. Caregivers need continued support and education at all ages and stages.

Appropriate behaviors

What Is Differential Reinforcement?

Differential reinforcement is an intervention whereby behavior X receives consequence X and behavior Y receives consequence Y. Often, behavior x is the target behavior (the behavior we want to decrease) and behavior y is the appropriate behavior (the behavior we want to increase).  The behaviors we want to decrease or increase…

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Journal Club: “Just Make It Stop”

An 89-year-old woman diagnosed with severe vascular dementia cried excessively on van rides home from her adult day center. Authors used a differential reinforcement procedure to decrease levels of crying to zero or near zero levels. Day center staff, however, were not actively involved in application of the intervention. Warning signs…

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How To Make Your Own Picture Communication Cards

Anyone can make picture cards. All you need is a word processing or presentation program, the Internet, and a printer. First, make a list of picture cards needed for clients/loved ones. Then, search online for images that best represent those activities or items. Cut and paste those images into a…


Picture Card Communication for Individuals With Dementia

As dementia patients decline, their ability to communicate using words decreases. Individuals become aphasic or mute and cannot communicate basic wants. Ineffective ways of communicating leads to challenging behaviors, caregiver depression, and isolated patients. Picture or text reminders are frequently used in cognitive rehabilitation or during reminiscence activities. Pictures can be used…


From Blog to Blog: The Importance of Age Appropriate Activities

Activity engagement is a vital part of maintaining or increasing quality of life for individuals with dementia. In fact, researchers recommend that it be part of daily routines, alongside exercise and proper nutrition. Activities can increase happiness and boost affect, while decrease agitation and boredom. All too often, I find that…

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How Much Does He Wander? [Assessment PDF]

When I first meet a caregiver, one of the first questions I ask is “How much?” How long does she yell – for 30 minutes straight? Off and on all day? How often does she throw things – Once a day? Once a week? How much does he wander –…

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From Blog to Blog: Emphasizing Dr. Laird’s Advice to Those With Dementia

I try to keep up with many resources in aging — scholarly journals, news media, and fellow bloggers. This week I ran across a new blog — Dr. Rosemary Laird’s Caregiver Corner. Dr. Laird was the AGS Clinician of the Year in 2013 after establishing a caregiver center, case management…

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Journal Club: Behavior Analytic Research In Dementia

Introduction Authors open with a description of dementia, including diagnostic criteria, prevalence rates, and symptoms. [For an update on dementia, visit here.] Trahan et al. explain how the medical model emphases pharmacological interventions, which have adverse side effects (e.g., stoke, delirium, increased risk of falls, mortality), whereas the behavior analytic…

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How To Measure Target Behaviors?

There are several ways to measure target behaviors. Behavior analysts will choose the simplest strategy for caregivers to use and focus on measures that will produce the best information. Here are the most common measurement strategies behavior analysts ask caregivers to use: Frequency: Behavior analysts may ask caregivers to count…

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When And Where To Measure Target Behaviors?

Persons who spend the most time with individuals exhibiting target behaviors typically collect the data. This usually includes caregivers, nurses, aides, or family members. Behavior analysts will collect data and measure behaviors during weekly sessions. It is important to record the target behavior immediately after it occurs. Most behavior analysts…