Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Older Adults With Anxiety and Cognitive Impairment: Adaptations and Illustrative Case Study
Anxiety is a prevalent condition in older adults with neurocognitive disorders such as dementia. Interventions based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) appear to be an emerging area of treatment innovation for treating anxiety in older adults with cognitive impairment. Drawing on the empirical literature on CBT for late-life anxiety and recent trials of CBT for anxiety in persons with mild-to-moderate dementia, this article provides an overview of the customization of CBT to the needs of older adults with anxiety and cognitive impairment. Adaptations for assessment, case conceptualization, socialization, therapeutic alliance, and treatment strategies are discussed. A case study to illustrate implementation of these adaptations is presented. Limitations to the current state of the literature on the efficacy and feasibility of CBT for anxiety in older adults with cognitive impairment are identified, and future directions for treatment research are proposed.