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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


Major Research Findings on Alternative Therapies for Dementia Behaviors Announced

FORT MYERS, FL - Florida Gulf Coast University today announced the major findings from a three-year study funded by the national Alzheimer’s Association and the Retirement Research Foundation to examine the effect of specific non-medicinal interventions for the treatment of disturbing behaviors in older adults with dementia.

Repeated physiological readings indicate that 96 percent of the time, the therapeutic recreational intervention chosen had the desired effect. Caregivers affirmed that participants showed a significant decrease in both agitated and passive behaviors.

Director of the FGCU Southwest Florida Interdisciplinary Center for Positive Aging Linda Buettner was principal investigator.

She said the behaviors of 141 individuals with dementia, ages 65-102, were closely examined after recreational interventions such as cooking, music and art, and less common activities such as wheelchair biking, air-mat therapy and Somatron therapy, were used for calming agitated individuals or alerting passive individuals.

Participants received two weeks of individualized recreational therapy services, using about 75 different interventions. Caregivers assessed participants before and after the intervention period for data collection. Physiological effects were calculated three times.

Additional findings indicate that behaviors cannot be pinned down solely as agitated or passive, which has important implications for medications used to treat agitation.

These sedating medications increase passivity and lower cognitive, social and physical stimulation, indicating that the use of psychoactive medications for behavior management might not be as effective as believed.

Of all participants, 35 percent received one and 24 percent received two or more of these medications but their behavior problems continued.

The announcement of the findings launched the new Center for Positive Aging, which relocated to the FGCU Charlotte Center last month.

“I am very proud of the work of Center director Dr. Linda Buettner, whose research has garnered local, state and federal funding support for its important work,” President William C. Merwin said. “We are especially grateful to State Representative Carole Green for her untiring support in securing state funding for the Center’s work.”

The Center for Positive Aging offers services, research, courses and programs for older adults in Southwest Florida, their families and professional caregivers, and focuses on those with memory concerns. Associate clinical director Suzanne Fitzsimmons was co-investigator with Buettner.

For more information, contact Buettner at (941) 255-7414.

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