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Office of Vice President and
Chief of Staff
Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd S.
Fort Myers, FL. 33965-6565

Phone: (239) 590-1006
Fax:     (239) 590-1066

Press Release


National Experts Meet in Charlotte County on Feb. 9 To Improve Alzheimer's Care

FORT MYERS, FL - A team of national experts from the American Therapeutic Recreation Association will meet in Charlotte County - where the median age is the highest in the nation - on Feb. 9 to discuss and adopt national Dementia Practice Guidelines for Recreation Therapy because of the leading efforts of Florida Gulf Coast University.

FGCU director of the Center for Positive Aging and Charlotte County resident, Linda Buettner, pushed hard for the meeting of the 15 top therapists in her home county. “It is rapidly being recognized as a great location for the study programs needed for older adults.”

The Practice Guidelines established at the meeting will be used for long-term care residents throughout the country who need recreation therapy services. The Practice Guidelines will help clinicians prescribe some type of recreation therapy as their first choice of treatment. The aim of the approach is to lessen the number of medications and negative side effects, and improve the individual’s ability to function in day-to-day activities.

“FGCU is on the cutting edge of providing recreation therapy for older adults,” Buettner said. “Several funded research projects are currently underway which are investigating recreation therapy interventions for older adults in both residential and home settings. The University also provides newly established courses in recreation therapy and gerontology online, using the latest distance learning technology.”

The Southwest Florida Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association is lending its support to the effort. They will provide the “Memory Mobile” for the meeting in Port Charlotte.

Executive director, Bob Doyle, said he is very pleased to support recreation therapists in the pursuit of helping Alzheimer caregivers, both family caregivers and professional caregivers. “The caregiver has a very difficult task and recreation therapists are among a very few professions trying to help improve caregiver effectiveness,” Doyle said. “The more effective we can be in caring for our loved ones the better the quality of life for all involved, even under these difficult situations.”

Research proves that for people with dementia, recreation therapy can improve functionality. One study shows therapy enhances strength, flexibility and mood. Other studies say participants need fewer medications, have fewer falls and injuries, and exhibit fewer disturbing behaviors. Therapy can also reduce depression and improve sleep, while at the same time increase socialization and help the individual to maintain skills longer.

ATRA is the largest membership organization in the country representing the interests and need of recreational therapists. ATRA was incorporated in the District of Columbia in 1984 as a non-profit, grassroots organization in response to growing concern about the dramatic changes in the health care industry. It grew from a membership of 60 individuals in June 1984 to 4,500 in 1999.

For more information, contact the Center for Positive Aging at (941) 590-7852.

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