Patients (n = 191) living in four comparable somatic nursing homes (NH) (nursing homes for physical illness) were studied in order to evaluate dementia syndromes. Dementia and symptoms of depressed mood occurred frequently (72% and 63%, respectively). Dementia was often undiagnosed at admittance. Neither the length of time spent in institutions, nor marital status, age, or sex seemed to be of more than minor importance to the prevalence of dementia syndromes. Concerning functional impairment, convergence of findings across the societies studied indicates that psychiatric symptoms and psychopathology are intrinsic parts of long-term care of the elderly.