This article proposes taking another look at behavioral symptoms of dementia (BSDs) both from a theoretical perspective that informs research and practice and from a measurement perspective. We discuss why this rethinking of behaviors impacts current models of care and our ability to better detect outcomes from interventions. We propose that BSDs be viewed from a pattern perspective and provide some suggestions for how to identify and measure these patterns that can influence the timing and type of intervention. Evidence suggests that BSDs are complex, sequential, patterned clusters of behavior recurring repeatedly in the same individual and escalate significantly without timely intervention. However, BSDs are frequently viewed as separate behaviors rather than patterns or clusters of behaviors, a view that affects current research questions as well as the choice, timing, and outcomes of interventions. These symptoms cause immense distress to persons with the disease and their caregivers, trigger hospitalizations and nursing home placement, and are associated with increased care costs. Despite their universality and that symptoms manifest across disease etiologies and stages, behaviors tend to be underrecognized, undertreated, and overmanaged by pharmacological treatments that may pose more harm than benefit.
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