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Research Benefits

Research on Cognitive Stimulation Through Activity for Dementia

MAKS Alzheimer Activities Therapy

Research published in the journal BMC Medicine showed that daily group activity therapy for elderly dementia patients can delay progression of the dementia. The therapy also proved to be at least as good, if not better, as treatment with routine dementia medications.

The research was conducted by the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany. 61 dementia patients in nursing homes took either their regular treatment for dementia, or took their regular treatment in addition to doing "MAKS" therapy for two hours a day, six days a week. Everyone did their assigned therapies for one year.

The MAKS group therapy sessions included: motor stimulation (M), such as bowling and balance exercises; activities of daily living (A), like making snacks and gardening; cognitive stimulation (K), including puzzles; and a spiritual element, where the group discussed happiness or singing a song.

After one year of therapy the MAKS group remained stable with their cognitive function (as measured by the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale or ADAS). The MAKS group also remained stable with their ability to complete daily activities. On the other hand, the control group patients showed a decrease in both of these areas.

Cochrane Research Review of Cognitive Stimulation Exercises for Dementia Patients

The Cochrane Collaboration, a network of international professionals who promote evidence-based health care information,  reviewed the research of trials of cognitive stimulation for dementia care. Fifteen research trials with a total of 718 participants, were reviewed.  The participants in the different studies were from a variety of memory care settings and a variety of countries. 
All research trials provided mental 'exercises' or activities to the patients. Examples included word games, puzzles, music, discussion of current and past events, and everyday activities, such as baking or gardening.  Trained staff led the groups, consisting of 4 to 5 people with dementia for around 45 minutes, at least twice a week. 
Evidence in the studies showed that cognitive stimulation programs improve memory and thinking test scores in people with mild to moderate dementia with a benefit that is "over and above any medication effects". In addition, there was reported improved quality of life for the subjects and increased communication abilities.
The review called for further studies to determine how long the effects of the cogntive stimulation program last and for how long the stimulation should be continued.

Research on Alzheimer's Activities on Quality of Life

Activities can promote self-esteem, enhance quality of life, and minimize mental decline. - Brooker , D. J. , & Woolley , R. J. (2007). Enriching opportunities for people living with dementia: The development of a blueprint for a sustainable activity-based model . Aging & Mental Health , 11 , 371 – 383.

"The purposes of activities for people with dementia is not so much restorative, but rather, preventative and enabling.  Activities are used to reestablish a sense of normal function…a sense of usefulness, of pleasure, and to reduce the sense of helplessness and futility these people experience.”  - Hasselkus BR. The Meaning of Activity: Day Care for Persons With Alzheimer Disease. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 1992; 46: 202.

Research on Alzheimer's Activities Reducing Undesired Behaviors

"The use of purposeful activity reduces agitation, decreases restraint and pharmacological use, and enhances quality of life for this population.” - Gitlin LN, Winter L, Vause Earland T, Herge EA, Chernett NL, Piersol CV, Burke JP. The Tailored Activity Program to Reduce Behavioral Symptoms in Individuals With Dementia: Feasibility, Acceptability, and Replication Potential. The Gerontologist. 2009; 49: 429.
'Use of therapeutic recreation interventions can: calm individuals with agitation, alert persons with passive behaviors, and decrease depression and improve sleep.' - Smith, M, Kolanowski A, Buettner L, Buckwalter K. Beyond Bingo: Meaningful Activities for Persons with Dementia in Nursing Homes. Annals of Long Term Care. 2009; 17:7, p. 22-30.