To view an abstract, select an author from the vertical list on the left.
2012 Grants - Seitz
A Volunteer-Led Intervention to Reduce Behavioral Symptoms of Dementia
Dallas P. Seitz, M.D.
Queen's University at Kingston
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
2012 New Investigator Research Grant
People with Alzheimer's disease often require the services of hospitals and other long-term care facilities. The care of these individuals usually involves treating dementia-related behavioral problems, including depression, anxiety, agitation, psychosis and aggression. Individuals with dementia are often given drugs to cope with their behavioral symptoms; drugs that can cause harmful side effects and lead to reduced quality of life. Nonpharmacological treatments, which are usually the most effective, often prove too time-consuming and exhaustive of facility resources. One pragmatic approach for delivering these nonpharmacological treatments may involve the use of volunteers.
Dallas P. Seitz, M.D., and colleagues propose to evaluate a volunteer-led dementia therapy program called Volunteers Adding Life in Dementia (VALID). In this program, volunteers will provide therapy to 120 people with dementia-related behavioral symptoms in several long-term care facilities in Ontario, Canada. VALID will develop tailored therapy treatments based on each participant's needs and interests. Such treatments may include exercise, music and other activities that are physically or mentally stimulating. A total of 40 volunteers will be trained to carry out the VALID interventions; they will provide their residents with 30 minutes of activities, 3 times a week over the course of 12 weeks. The residents will then undergo testing to determine the effectiveness of VALID therapies. Researchers will identify changes in their participants' level of neuropsychiatric symptoms, as well as improvements in mood and perceived quality of life. Dr. Seitz's team will also assess problems with implementing the VALID program, partially by interviewing VALID volunteers and the care facilities' full-time staff. Results of this effort could yield a novel approach for improving the care and quality of life of people living with dementia.