Capturing Interests: Therapeutic Recreation Activities for Persons with Dementia


  • Ann M. Kolanowski
  • Linda Buettner
  • Paul T. Costa, Jr.
  • Mark S. Litaker


Dementia, Personality, Intervention, NEO Personality Inventory


Behaviors such as screaming, wandering, and physical aggression occur in over 50% of personswith dementia. Therapeutic recreation activities have demonstrated promise as interventions forthese dementia-related behaviors; however, few activities have wide appeal and caregiverscontinue to express the need to find activities that keep persons with dementia engaged inmeaningful pursuits. This article describes a treatment theory for selecting activities that matchboth skill level and personality style of interest, and a pilot study that tested the effectiveness ofthese activities. Ten nursing home residents served as their own control in a crossoverexperimental design in which they were assigned to treatment and control activities for 12consecutive days, each in a random order. Treatment activities resulted in greater subjectengagement and more displays of positive affect. During treatment, there were fewer days whendementia behaviors were exhibited than during control activities.





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