Poster Session
Issue Date: August 2016
Published Online: August 01, 2016
Updated: January 01, 2021
The Benefits of a Person-Centered Social Program for Community-Dwelling People With Dementia
Author Affiliations
  • Texas Woman's University
Article Information
Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia / Neurologic Conditions / Prevention and Intervention
Poster Session   |   August 01, 2016
The Benefits of a Person-Centered Social Program for Community-Dwelling People With Dementia
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011515266.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011515266.

Date Presented 4/8/2016

A service-learning program based on a client-centered approach can promote engagement of community-dwelling people with dementia in personally meaningful activities; the continuity of self-identity; establishment of a new, satisfying relationship; and the opportunities to be empowered.

Primary Author and Speaker: Areum Han

Contributing Authors: Jeff Radel, Dory Sabata

PURPOSE: The study aimed to explore the experience and impact of a person-centered social program for community-dwelling people with dementia. Particularly, the research aimed to understand what particular experience meant to each person and identify whether the program’s benefits persisted after the program ended.
RATIONALE: Providing personally meaningful activities and positive social interactions is an important aspect of person-centered care. Although scholars have emphasized the importance of a person-centered approach to dementia care, few intervention studies have been conducted to identify how a person-centered approach to leisure and social activity programs may benefit community-dwelling people with dementia. The KUMC PAIRS program is a service learning program, pairing community-dwelling people with dementia with 1st-yr medical students. The program promotes engagement of students and people with dementia in mutually chosen, one-on-one activities and encourages flexibility in customizing individuals’ preferences and interests beyond existing social contacts and limited settings such as support groups. New findings may accrue because the program is distinct from more typical group-based social programs with little flexibility for customizing group activities to accommodate individual preferences and interests.
DESIGN: This qualitative study used interpretative phenomenological analysis. This methodology is suited for a very small sample (3–6 people for case comparisons) to emphasize in-depth analysis of single cases in their unique contexts, followed by a thorough search for patterns across cases.
PARTICIPANTS: Five people with dementia (3 men, 2 women) and their spouses participated in the present study.
METHOD: Semistructured interviews were conducted 7–8 mo after the program ended to assess persistence of the program’s impact on people with dementia. An interview with each person with dementia went deeper and further, based on each person’s salient experiences, having personally significant meaning and emotion.
ANALYSIS: Audio recordings of interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed according to IPA methodology.
RESULTS: Three main themes emerged for persons with dementia: Theme 1, participation in activities supporting self-identity; Theme 2, the value of newly established intergenerational relationships; and Theme 3, empowerment (choice and control) and the student partner’s attitude.
DISCUSSION: The findings of this study demonstrate that a person-centered, social activity program can promote the continuity of self-identity; help establish a new, satisfying relationship with a younger person; and provide opportunities to be empowered by maximizing personal freedom to choose activities on the basis of interests and preferences.
Current community-based leisure and social activity programs for community-dwelling people with dementia are typically organized as a group format and offer little flexibility to customize participation according to individual preferences and choice, often due to limited human resources. Providing one-on-one social interaction with younger people through a service-learning program based on person-centered approach can be one way for community-dwelling people with dementia to engage in personally meaningful activities beyond progressively more restricted social contacts and settings, to promote the continuity of self-identity, and to feel included in their community.
IMPACT STATEMENT: Findings suggest a person-centered social program can benefit community-dwelling people with dementia by promoting engagement in activities having personal meaning and the continuity in self-identity. Findings support core beliefs of occupational therapy.