Managing cognitive impairment in the elderly: conceptual, intervention and methodological issues

Document Type


Peer Reviewed


Publication Date


NLM Title Abbreviation

Online J Knowl Synth Nurs

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The online journal of knowledge synthesis for nursing

PubMed ID


DOI of Published Version


Start Page



PURPOSE: With the aging of society, the incidence of dementia in the elderly is also increasing, and thus results in increased numbers of individuals with cognitive impairment. Nurses and other researchers have investigated issues concerning the management of cognitive impairment. This article highlights conceptual, intervention and methodological issues associated with this phenomenon. CONCLUSIONS: Cognitive change is a multivariate construct that includes alterations in a variety of information processing mechanisms such as problem solving ability, memory, perception, attention and learning, and judgement. Although there is a large body of research, conceptual, intervention and methodological issues remain. Much of the clinical research on cognitive impairment is atheoretical, with this issue only recently being addressed. While many clinical interventions have been proposed, few have been adequately tested. There are also various methodological concerns, such as small sample sizes and limited statistical power; study design issues (experimental vs. non-experimental), and internal and external validity problems. Clearly, additional research designed to intervene with these difficult behaviors is needed. IMPLICATIONS: A variety of psychosocial, environmental and physical parameters must be considered in the nursing care of persons with cognitive impairment. Special attention has been given to interventions associated with disruptive behaviors. Interventions are complex and knowledge must be integrated from both the biomedical and behavioral sciences in order to deal effectively with the numerous problems that can arise over a long and changing clinical course. Some researchers and clinicians have suggested that a new culture regarding dementia care is needed, one that focuses on changing attitudes and beliefs about persons with dementia and one that changes how organizations deliver that care. This review identifies key conceptual, intervention and methodological issues and recommends how these issues might be addressed in the future.

Published Article/Book Citation

The online journal of knowledge synthesis for nursing, 6: (1999) pp.10-.

This document is currently not available here.