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A Systematic Review of Strategies to Foster Activity Engagement in Persons With Dementia
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    Dementia is a growing public health issue. Activity, a positive therapeutic modality, has potential to enhance quality of life and reduce behavioral symptoms in persons with dementia--outcomes eluding pharmacological treatments. However, it is unclear how to effectively engage persons with dementia in activities for them to derive desired benefits. We present a systematic review of 28 studies involving 50 tests of different ways of modifying activities to enhance engagement and reduce behavioral and psychological symptoms for this group. Of 50 tests, 22 (44%) evaluated changes to objects and properties (e.g., introducing activities with intrinsic interest), 6 (12%) evaluated changes to space demands (e.g., lighting, noise levels), 8 (16%) evaluated changes to social demands (e.g., prompts, praise), and 14 (28%) combined two or more activity modifications. No modifications were made to the sequence and timing of activities. Although modifications to objects and properties were the most common, outcomes for engagement and behaviors were mixed. Modifications to space and social demands were less frequently tested, but consistently yielded positive outcomes. No modifications resulted in negative behavioral outcomes or decreased engagement. Methodological strengths of studies included direct observation of outcomes and fidelity assessments. Few studies however involved persons with dementia at home. Our review revealed a growing evidentiary base for different modifications to foster engagement in activities and reduce behavioral and psychological symptoms. Future studies should evaluate how contextual factors (e.g., physical environment, activity type) and caregiver ability to employ activity modifications affect engagement.

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    T32 AG000247/AG/NIA NIH HHS/United States
    U38 HM000454/HM/NCHM CDC HHS/United States
    1R01AG041781/AG/NIA NIH HHS/United States
    T32 AG000120/AG/NIA NIH HHS/United States
    R01 AG041781/AG/NIA NIH HHS/United States
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