In 2008, we completed a project that suggests it is possible to
improve the quality of life for dementia patients. Our project
was inspired by and based on the research findings of Barbara
Derrick, PhD, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina.
(Please refer Dr.
Derrick’s research on our website.)
(Please refer to Venture Inward, July/August
2004 for additional information about Dr. Derrick’s work.)
Dr. Derrick has shown that dementia residents who listen to daily
positive affirmation tapes have marked improvements in their behavior
and their level of happiness. In addition, the caregivers who listen
daily to a tape that affirms their positive and nurturing role
with the patients have a significantly lower rate of absenteeism.
Our project was conducted at the Del Sol Residential Facility
for the Elderly in Mission Viejo, California. Thirteen out of twenty-three
families consented to have their family member participate in our
project. We developed two CDs with positive affirmations; Affirmative
Therapy for Dementia Patients and Affirmative
Therapy for Caregivers.
We administered and scored a preliminary Mini-Mental
Status Examination (MMSE) on each of the participating residents.
We also held an orientation training program with the staff. With
the help of the caregiver staff, we identified specific behavior
challenges for each of the participating residents (e.g., yelling,
lack of cooperation with grooming or meals). Each of the 13 participating
residents listened to the CD twice a day (once in the morning and
once in the evening before bed). A senior staff member recorded
observations of the frequency of behavioral challenges for each
resident. Three months later, we administered a follow-up MMSE
and reviewed the behavior records.
Unforunately, by the end of the study, three of the participants
had passed away. Of the remaining 10 participants, three demonstrated
an improved behavior pattern and seven remained the same. Equally
interesting and encouraging were the follow-up MMSE scores. One
score remained the same, five scores were lower, and four participants
actually demonstrated improved scores.
Although our study did not have a control group, this preliminary
evidence, as well as that of Barbara Derrick, PhD, suggests that
dementia patients benefit from listening to a positive affirmation
tape, especially when their caregivers also listen to a tape that
affirms the importance of their role as caregivers. Our findings
offer mostly subjective; however, we are open to providing
assistance with further research in this arena. Meanwhile, we encourage
healthcare providers and caregivers in any arena to add our Affirmative
Therapy Products to their daily routine. These audio products offer
an improved quality of life for dementia patients and ”respite
in a CD” for caregivers.
Barbara Klein-Robuck, MS, RN, HN-BC
Donna A. McCullough, PhD
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