107.6 Mental fitness for dimentia patients: Can it work?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 1:45 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Distributed Paper
Beverly SANBRN , Programs and Activities, Belmont Senior Living, Houston, TX
This is an exploratory study translating research into a program designed to maintain mental fitness in a population of assisted living residents who have mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or mild dementia.  The participants did not live in a secured perimeter environment; they were struggling with managing in an assisted living environment.  The program, called Circle of Friends, is a structured 7-day-week, 8-hour day activity provided by dedicated activity leaders especially trained to conduct 6 research-based domains of mental workout.  Domains include:1) Practice Organizing Ideas; 2) Learn Something New; 3) Exercise Long Term Memory; 4)  Exercise mind/memory simultaneously through word games; 5) Exercise mind/memory/body movement (such as dancercise) simultaneously; 6) Analytic thinking and math problem-solving.  All Mental Fitness protocols emphasize speed-of-processing, are novel and involve a mental “stretch.”  Three communities in the Belmont Village company were selected, based on quality of activity leader skill.  Twenty-nine residents participated in the study.  Selection of residents was based on daily attendance and achieving at baseline a Folstein Mini-Mental (MMSE) score of 18 to 28 and a score of 9 or higher on the Clock Drawing Test (CDT) (Below 18 indicates dementia).  At baseline and at 6 months, residents were given the MMSE and the CDT.  Our preliminary finding was that out of 29 full time participants who completed the program, 20 out of 29 maintained or improved on the CDT (ie, only 8 lost more than 1 point); 21 out of 29 maintained or improved on the MMSE.  Thus it was concluded that the Circle of Friends program was able to sustain mental fitness over a six months period for residents who are in the mild to moderate range of dementia and at high risk of decline.  All residents in the sample were able to continue living in the least restrictive environment.