Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Elders with dementia can tap into memory stores to give advice

19.07.2006
Dementia may rob an older person of memory and focus, but the ability to offer timeless advice about life's big questions seems to be preserved, according to Florida State University researchers.

Katinka Dijkstra, an assistant professor of psychology, and Michelle Bourgeois, professor of communication disorders, both of FSU, and colleagues from Long Island University and George Washington University have found that older adults with moderate to severe symptoms of dementia can assume advice giving and teaching roles despite their cognitive impairments. The researchers conducted a pair of first-of-their-kind studies, and the findings were published in the academic journal The Gerontologist.

"A relatively common perception of adults with dementia in nursing homes is that they are helpless and incompetent and do not have the potential to maintain a certain level of independence and ability to communicate," Dijkstra said. "Our studies show that they have abilities that their caregivers and family members may not even be aware of. Giving those with dementia opportunities to give advice or teach others could help break the cycle of learned helplessness and improve self-esteem and well-being."

In the first study, the researchers interviewed 14 people with early to advanced stages of dementia at an adult day care center. The mean age of the participants was 82. The researchers asked about marriage, children and church in a purely social way, such as "Tell me about your children." In later conversations, they asked the adults for advice on the same topics, as in, "I'm thinking about having children. What kind of advice can you give me on that?"

They found that adults were more coherent, informative and focused on the topic when asked for advice as opposed to when they were simply asked about their children, church or marriage.

"Participants took their roles quite seriously when experimenters asked them for advice," the researchers wrote. "They were eager to dispense useful information, which suggests that there may be social benefits to their information-giving role assignment. Moreover, asking for advice may have contributed to conversations that were more to the point than those seen in the social conversation situation."

The researchers also conducted a second study to explore whether adults with dementia had retained the ability to serve in a teaching role. For this study, six adults with dementia and six without dementia, all in their 70s or 80s, were given a booklet of pictures to guide them in teaching someone a simple recipe, such as how to make banana pudding or decorate a gingerbread man. Both the cognitively intact older adults and those with dementia successfully taught students to prepare the recipes.

Dijkstra said she was surprised that there was so little difference in the teaching abilities of the healthy adults and those with dementia, although she noted that those with dementia needed more prompting than the others to finish the task.

The researchers theorized that adults with dementia were successful giving advice and teaching a cooking lesson because they were able to tap into knowledge that was accumulated when they were younger and needed these skills as parents or mentors. This type of knowledge does not decline as much as memory of recent events, she said.

"The fact that another person needs information from them also places adults with dementia in a position of empowerment, which makes them more motivated and possibly more goal oriented to finish such a task," she said.

Caregivers and family members may want to try seeking advice from elders or encouraging them to take a leadership role in certain activities, Dijkstra said.

"This will put the focus on what they are still able to do instead of what they are no longer able to do," she said. "Awareness of these preserved abilities may also make it easier for family members to deal with the situation of 'losing' their family member to dementia or Alzheimer's disease."

Katinka Dijkstra | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.fsu.com

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Hot cars can hit deadly temperatures in as little as one hour
24.05.2018 | Arizona State University

nachricht 3D images of cancer cells in the body: Medical physicists from Halle present new method
16.05.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>