October 19, 2015


 Full text articles are available to fee paying members of Alzheimer’s Australia NSW by emailing NSW.Library@alzheimers.org.au

A family living with Alzheimer’s disease: The communicative challenges

Pages: 555-573

Alzheimer’s disease irrevocably challenges a person’s capacity to communicate with others. Earlier research on these challenges focused on the language disorders associated with the condition and situated language deficit solely in the limitations of a person’s cognitive and semantic impairments. This research falls short of gaining insight into the actual interactional experiences of a person with Alzheimer’s and their family. Drawing on a UK data set of 70 telephone calls recorded over a two-and-a-half year period (2006–2008) between one elderly woman with Alzheimer’s disease, and her daughter and son-in-law, this paper explores the role which communication (and its degeneration) plays in family relationships. Investigating these interactions, using a conversation analytic approach, reveals that there are clearly communicative difficulties, but closer inspection suggests that they arise due to the contingencies that are generated by the other’s contributions in the interaction. That being so, this paper marks a departure from the traditional focus on language level analysis and the assumption that deficits are intrinsic to the individual with Alzheimer’s, and instead focuses on the collaborative communicative challenges that arise in the interaction itself and which have a profound impact on people’s lives and relationships.


Older adults’ views and experiences of doll therapy in residential care homes

Pages: 574-588

Background and purpose: The mechanisms underlying the success of doll therapy are poorly understood. The aims of this study were to explore how people in care, doll users and non-users, make sense of doll use in their settings.

Methodology: A grounded theory approach was used, recruiting participants from three residential care homes involving four male and 12 female residents. Data collection occurred in two phases; five participants took part in a focus group and later 11 participants were interviewed individually. Eight of the 11 participants had dementia, and four participants were actively using dolls.

Results and conclusion: The results are presented as themes, and sub-themes, consisting of four main categories (intrapersonal features, interpersonal features, behavioural benefits, ethical and moderating factors). This thematic analysis shows that residents generally support the use of dolls, believing that dolls can have a positive impact on some users. The mechanisms by which this impact is achieved are discussed together with the ethical concerns.


Perceived stigma in persons with early-stage dementia: Longitudinal findings: Part 1

Pages: 589-608

This longitudinal study examined perceived stigma in persons with dementia, with 50 persons with dementia, and 47 corresponding family caregivers. Data were collected at baseline and at 6, 12, and 18 months. Study results are reported in two parts, with findings regarding the stability of perceived stigma, measured using the modified Stigma Impact Scale, and relationship of stigma to person-centered variables being reported here. Findings included stability in perceived stigma, which did not show a downward trend until 18 months. Significant differences at baseline were found only for geographic location (rural vs. urban) with persons living in urban areas having higher levels of Stigma Impact Scale internalized shame compared to rural counterparts. Cognitive functioning was significantly, positively related to the Stigma Impact Scale social rejection and social isolation subscales. Findings support the enduring nature of perceived stigma over the early disease stages and the relationship of perceived stigma to some person-centered characteristics.


The effects of perceived stigma on quality of life outcomes in persons with early-stage dementia: Longitudinal findings: Part 2

Pages: 609-632

This article is the second report from a study examining perceived stigma in persons with dementia with findings regarding the association between stigma and quality of life outcomes being reported here. Fifty persons with dementia and 47 family caregivers were sampled, with data being collected at baseline and six, 12, and 18 months. The modified Stigma Impact Scale measured perceived stigma. Quality of life outcomes included: depression, anxiety, behavioral symptoms, personal control, physical health, self-esteem, social support, and activity participation. Linear mixed model or generalized linear mixed model (for depression) analyses revealed that some aspect of perceived stigma was associated with each outcome. Social rejection was associated with anxiety, behavioral symptoms, health, and activity participation. Internalized shame was associated with anxiety, personal control, health, self-esteem, social support understanding and assistance, and activity participation. Finally, social isolation was associated with depression, anxiety, personal control, health, self-esteem, social support understanding, and activity participation. The complexity of relationships between perceived stigma and quality of life outcomes is evident from these findings.


Experiences of using a memory aid to structure and support daily activities in a small-scale group accommodation for people with dementia

Pages: 633-650

Background: Use of technology to structure and support the daily activities of the residents in a small-scale group accommodation (SSGA) for dementia is a new innovation in the Netherlands. This paper presents the process of development of this new way of structuring activities and the findings of a pilot study looking at the experiences of using this device in people with dementia.

Method: A qualitative method was chosen, data were collected using individual interviews with the residents (n = 6), focus groups interviews with informal carers (n = 5) and members of staff (n = 6). Data were analysed using Ritchie & Spencer’s framework (1994).

Findings: Three main themes emerged: issues regarding the implementation, needs for further development and the learning experiences acquired during the development. The majority of the residents were happy with the use and function of the memory aid. However, the occurrence of installation errors, limited ease of use and a lack of knowledge regarding the function and use of the memory aid were issues that prevented a successful implementation. Findings highlighted shared views about ways of improving through adaptation of the software program and additional technological applications; internet connectivity, improving its accessibility by using a remote control and adding videos and photos.


The impact of dementia on length of stay in acute hospitals in Ireland

Pages: 650-658

The outcomes for those with dementia admitted to acute hospitals are often poor, with higher mortality, increased risk of institutionalisation and longer length of stay. The aim of this study was to examine the impact of dementia on length of stay and the associated cost of care in acute hospitals in Ireland. People with a recorded diagnosis of dementia were found to have a significantly longer length of stay than those with no recorded dementia. Multiplying the excess length of stay by the number of dementia-related admissions gave an estimate of 246,908 additional hospital days per annum due to dementia at an associated additional annual cost of over €199 million. Improving the experience of those with dementia in acute hospitals will likely lead to cost savings for the health service; however, it will require a number of measures including: earlier diagnosis, training for medical professionals and improvements in the built environment.


The ‘ripple effect’: Towards researching improvisational music therapy in dementia care homes

Pages: 659-679

Increased interest in, and demand for, music therapy provision for persons with dementia prompted this study’s exploration of music therapists’ strategies for creating musical communities in dementia care settings, considering the needs and resources of people affected by dementia. Focus group discussions and detailed iterative study of improvisational music therapy work by six experienced practitioners clarify the contextual immediacy and socio-musical complexities of music therapy in dementia care homes. Music therapy’s ‘ripple effect’, with resonances from micro (person-to-person musicking), to meso (musicking beyond ‘session time’) and macro level (within the care home and beyond), implies that all who are part of the dementia care ecology need opportunities for flourishing, shared participation, and for expanded self-identities; beyond ‘staff’, ‘residents’, or ‘being in distress’. On such basis, managers and funders might consider an extended brief for music therapists’ roles, to include generating and maintaining musical wellbeing throughout residential care settings.


Use of a multiparty web based videoconference support group for family caregivers: Innovative practice

Pages: 682-690

This article describes a pilot of a weekly web based videoconference support group for five caregivers of persons with dementia. All participants reported positive views of the group and videoconference medium. Improvements in caregiver anxiety, depression, and physical health scores were observed. Depression scores remained the same with difficulties experienced by the caregiver increasing slightly. Self-efficacy for controlling upsetting thoughts and responding to disruptive behavior improved but worsened slightly for obtaining respite. We concluded that web based support was a positive experience for caregivers, providing them with an acceptable, feasible, low-cost technological alternative to in person support that reduced barriers to attendance by being available in homes.


Designing garments for people with dementia: Innovative practice

Pages: 691-695

This article describes the project ‘No place like home’ which aimed to design clothing that would be more aesthetically appealing and practical for people with dementia. It argues that clothing is often an important part of people’s identity, which should be taken into account by designers and clothing manufacturers when designing for people in care settings.


Implementation of a baby doll therapy protocol for people with dementia: Innovative practice

Pages: 696-706

Dementia is exhibited by both emotional and physical states such as agitation. Chemical restraints, often used for agitated behaviors, are not always effective and produce untoward effects. Baby doll therapy is a nonpharmacologic therapy that can affect agitated behavior in dementia patients, yet a protocol for the therapy did not exist. An implementation protocol for doll therapy for those with dementia was developed and implemented with 16 residents in a dementia care center. Outcomes were measurements of the impact of the dolls on six areas of the resident’s behavior and their reactions to the doll. Participants had an increase in level of happiness, activity/liveliness, interaction with staff and others, and ease of giving care. There was also a reduction in the level of anxiety. The increase in happiness was a statistically significant outcome. Baby doll therapy is an effective nonpharmacological approach for improving the well-being of patients with moderate to severe dementia.


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