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2009 Grants - Buettner
Mentally Stimulating Activities (MSAs) to Treat Apathy in Early Stage Alzheimer's Disease
Linda L. Buettner, Ph.D.
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Greensboro, North Carolina
2009 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant
Apathy (the loss of motivation) is the most common neuropsychiatric symptom in mild to moderate stages of Alzheimer's, and it increases in severity as the dementia progresses. Apathy is complex to treat since it is often mixed with other behaviors, and evidence shows pharmacological therapies are not particularly effective in managing symptoms.
People with Alzheimer's disease who have apathy require more management and support due to their reliance on others to schedule their activities and initiate tasks even when they are still physically capable of performing them. Studies have shown that apathy was consistently associated with more severe functional impairments, more severe cognitive deficits and higher levels of burden and distress in caregivers.
Based on preliminary work, Linda L. Buettner and colleagues believe that they can reduce symptoms of apathy and improve functional outcomes for individuals with early stage Alzheimer's by using a mentally stimulating activity (MSA) intervention program. The researchers hypothesize that finding interventions to address apathy symptoms during the early stages of Alzheimer's could help maintain function, improve outcomes during treatment, reduce related behavioral symptoms and improve quality of life for families.