Connections: interventions to promote socialization and engagement among people with dementia
Behavioral disruptions are highly prevalent, affecting almost all persons with dementia at some point during the course of their illness (McConnell, 2014). These behavioral disruptions in persons with dementia are commonly associated with decreased quality of life in the person exhibiting the symptoms as well as their caregivers (Fauth, Zarit, Hofer & Stephens, 2006). The purpose of this doctoral project was to design an intervention to promote socialization and engagement among people with dementia. A review of evidence-based interventions was conducted to identify effective non-pharmacological interventions to decrease behavioral disruptions in persons with dementia. The most promising interventions for reducing symptoms of behavioral disruptions in persons with dementia identified in the literature include music therapy, animal-assisted therapy, massage, activities-based interventions, behavioral management and combination therapies incorporating two or more of these interventions. Incorporating these effective interventions, a new program, Connections, was developed. The program includes a series of different daily interventions to be provided in a skilled nursing facility over the course of six weeks for residents with mild to moderate dementia. The Connections program is guided by a person-centered care philosophy and utilizes an evidence-based approach. Connections is designed to address the unmet psychological needs in people with dementia, such as fear or a sense of loss of control, lack of meaningful activities, loneliness and a lack of social interaction and decrease the behavioral disruptions.