Characteristics of Activities for Persons With Dementia at the Mild, Moderate, and Severe Stages






PURPOSE: To understand activity in dementia care, we examine relationships of disease stage with types and characteristics of meaningful activities (cueing needs, help with initiation, and recommended engagement time) provided in a home-based intervention trial designed to reduce behavioral symptoms. DESIGN AND METHODS: Data involved 158 activity prescriptions or written documents detailing prescribed activities, cueing needs, and engagement goals designed by occupational therapists for 56 families. Activities were categorized as arts and crafts, exercise/physical, cognitive, music/entertainment, manipulation/sensory/sorting, family/social/ reminiscence, and domestic/homemaking. Bivariate correlations examined relationships of activity categories and characteristics with disease stage (mild, moderate, or severe). Kruskal-Wallis H tests examined differences among disease stages and frequency of type of activities prescribed, recommended cues, and engagement time. For significant Kruskal-Wallis tests, pairwise comparisons utilized the Mann-Whitney U test. RESULTS: Activity categories and instructions for set up were significantly related to cognitive and functional levels. Persons with mild dementia were most often prescribed complex arts and crafts and cognitive activities. Persons with moderate dementia were most often prescribed music/entertainment. Persons with severe dementia were most often prescribed simple physical exercises and manipulation/sensory/sorting activities. Average time prescribed for activities was less for those in severe (15min) versus moderate (24min) and mild (28min) stages. The severe group required more assistance with activity initiation and cueing/redirection. IMPLICATIONS: Type of activity, recommended cueing, and engagement time differed by dementia stage. Findings provide guidance as to how to use and set up activities across the dementia trajectory.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Alzheimer's and Related Dementias; Behavioral Scales; Elderly; Engagement Level; Functional Assessments; Home Setting; Interpersonal Relations; Music Listening; Neurodegenerative Disorders; Physical Exercise; Quality of Life; Symptom Management

Indexed Terms

Elderly; Elderly; Art; Cognition; Dementia; Exercise; Interpersonal Relations; Memory; Occupational Therapy; Problem Behavior; Severity of Illness Index; Behaviors; Caregiver; Dementia; Meaningful activity; Nonpharmacological intervention; Tailoring

Study Type

Quasi-Experimental Study; Quantitative Methods

PubMed ID


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