Student Research Projects

Treating Dementia in the 21st Century: The Role of Technology Use on Increasing Socialization and Improving Mental Health

Student Tenley Scott, '16
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Recreation
Course Recreation and Leisure Studies 409: Senior Internship

Abstract

Individuals with dementia often suffer a diminished quality of life in long-term care facilities due to their struggle with cognitive functioning and social interaction. To combat this issue, researchers have developed and implemented a study that attempts to identify whether using technology can help to increase long-term care residents\' overall quality of life. This was done using the adaptive technology of a software program called \"It\'s Never 2 Late\" (IN2L), which connects residents with new forms of engagement and communication with beneficial activities for therapeutic purposes. Researchers designed the study attempting to improve general well-being, improve social engagement, and decrease stress and depression of residents at a local long-term care facility, Westminster Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay. Eastern Virginia Medcial School, Westminster Canterbury, and Virigina Wesleyan College collaborated to complete the study.

The study took place over two twelve weeks periods where residents received one-on-one sessions, ranging from thirty to sixty minutes five days a week, involving individualized quality interaction, experiencing physical, cognitive, and psychosocial benefits of recreational therapy. These sessions are individualized according to the residents’ personal interests and level of assessed cognitive functioning. Assessments were administered to the residents at the beginning and end of each twelve-week session which allowed researchers to determine whether the interventions provided to the residents made a statistical difference in the resident\'s cognitive functioning and perceptions of overall quality of life.

Results of the research show that using IN2L for an hour a day, five days a week, for twelve weeks increased resident cognitive scores, and resulted in the decreased use of anti-psychotic drugs and decreased behavioral episodes. As the results from this study show, IN2L has the potential to be implemented in long-term care facilities around the country becoming the new benchmark of care, and improving the quality of life for older adults.