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2017 Grants - Croff
A Neighborhood Approach to Increase Physical Activity and Social Engagement
Raina Croff, Ph.D.
Oregon Health & Science University
2017 Alzheimer’s Association Research Grant to Promote Diversity (AARG-D)
Can an intervention that combines walking and social engagement improve memory in African-Americans with mild cognitive impairment?
African Americans are at an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease due partly to higher rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Interventions that promote physical activity and social engagement may reduce risk for dementia and improve cognitive function. A key component to the success of these types of interventions is promoting long-term motivation and engagement of the participants. Raina Croff, Ph.D. has designed a program called Sharing History through Active Reminiscence and Photo-Imagery (SHARP) that combines walking with reminiscence-based social engagement that is culturally tailored to African Americans. Her initial studies in cognitively healthy older adults showed promising results. The next step is to determine if the program can also benefit individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a condition of slight but noticeable decline in cognitive abilities that can precede Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Croff and her team have planned a pilot study of the SHARP program with 21 African Americans (7 with MCI and 14 with normal cognition). The participants will be split into groups of 3 (triads) with each triad including one individual with MCI. For 6 months, the triads walk 3x/week (1 mile) in Portland’s historically Black neighborhoods. The participants will follow GPS-mapped routes displayed on a tablet and view historic neighborhood images with prompts to stimulate conversational reminiscence. The researchers will measure cognitive function before and after the intervention and will seek feedback from the participants on their level of engagement and motivation.
If successful, the SHARP program may provide a novel way to improve cognitive function among people with MCI via increased physical activity and social engagement. The SHARP program could be adapted to different areas and ethnicities to help increase longer-term participation in a lifestyle change that could improve memory in both cognitively normal people and those with MCI.