1) Start with a Good Feeling Each Day
Caregivers have a profound influence on the
emotional state of individuals with Alzheimer's.
A University of Iowa study further supports an inescapable
message: caregivers have a profound influence -- good or bad --
on the emotional state of individuals with Alzheimer's disease.
Patients may not remember a recent visit by a loved one or having been neglected by staff at a
nursing home, but those actions can have a lasting impact on how they feel.
The findings of this study are published in the journal, Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology.
UI researchers showed individuals with Alzheimer's clips of sad and happy movies. The patients
experienced sustained states of sadness and happiness despite not remembering the movies.
"This confirms that the emotional life of an Alzheimer's patient is alive and well," says lead
author Edmarie Guzmán-Vélez. Despite the considerable amount of research aimed at finding new
treatments for Alzheimer's, no drug has succeeded at either preventing it. Against this backdrop,
this study highlights the need to develop new caregiving techniques aimed at improving the wellbeing
and minimizing the suffering for the millions of individuals afflicted with Alzheimer's.
For this behavioral study, Guzmán-Vélez and colleagues invited 17 patients with Alzheimer's and 17
healthy participants to view 20 minutes of sad and then happy movies. These movie clips triggered
expected emotions: sorrow and tears during the sad films and laughter during the happy ones.
Five minutes after watching the movies, participants took a memory test to see if they could recall
what they had just seen. As expected, the patients with Alzheimer's retained significantly less
information about both the sad and happy films than the healthy people. In fact, four were unable to
recall any factual information about the films, and one patient didn't even remember watching any
Before and after seeing the films, participants answered questions to gauge their feelings. Patients
with Alzheimer's disease reported elevated levels of either sadness or happiness for up to 30
minutes after viewing the films despite having little or no recollection of the movies. Quite strikingly,
the less the patients remembered about the films, the longer their sadness lasted. While sadness
tended to last a little longer than happiness, both emotions far outlasted the memory of the films.
The fact that forgotten events continue to exert profound influences on patients' emotional life
highlights the need for caregivers to avoid causing negative feelings and to try to induce positive
"Our findings should empower caregivers by showing them that their actions toward
patients really do matter," Guzmán-Vélez says. She suggests simple things that can have a
lasting emotional impact on a patient's quality of life and subjective well-being, such as:
Serving patients their favorite
1 SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Care