Memory Care Update: NIH-Funded Study Reports Lifestyle Improvements and Reduced Depression and Apathy with New Alzheimer’s Therapy


Jul 1, 2015 | Programming & Outreach

While our blogs normally focus on the latest in senior living marketing best practices and strategies for growing your community, we believe it is useful to pause occasionally to report on programmatic innovations that have been shown to provide value to the lives of senior care residents. In this particular instance, we focus on residents who are living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

While clinical research efforts hold promise, there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of progressive cognitive decline. This leaves millions of afflicted Americans, their families and senior living communities to cope with common symptoms related to the disease such as agitation, aggressive behavior, depression, apathy and social disengagement.

Although no cure is imminent, important advances are being made in the form of transformational life enrichment therapies that are proving successful in making the lives of loved ones with memory loss measurably better. One of the pioneers at the forefront of these efforts is John Zeisel, Ph.D., an internationally recognized expert on the non-pharmacological treatment of cognitive decline and evidence-based facility design, as well as the founder and CEO of Hearthstone Alzheimer Care outside of Boston.

Clinical Trial Demonstrates Tangible Results, Offers Hope

Based on the results of a recently completed three-year clinical trial funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Zeisel’s innovative new therapy program called Scripted-IMPROVTM has proven successful in increasing both social engagement and quality of life, while also reducing apathy and depression for individuals living with memory impairment. According to the formal research report, statistically significant clinical improvements were noted in both quantitative and qualitative measures of the therapy’s efficacy during the trials.

Drama and the Arts as a Breakthrough Therapy

The arts and creativity play a key role in the Scripted-IMPROV™ approach, which supports joyful, more meaningful lives. The easy-to-facilitate program utilizes drama (skits or mini-plays), props, music, dancing and role-playing to achieve superior clinical outcomes as well as bringing smiles, laughter and unexpected responses from those who were previously thought to be incapable of interacting at such levels.

Dr. Zeisel says, “Our approach to care and treatment is based on years of clinical experience and on understanding the neuroscience of dementia. Despite the very real changes occurring in their brains, people with Alzheimer’s deserve every opportunity to flourish. Our positive and hopeful approach demonstrably reduces the symptoms of dementia while increasing quality of life. A better quality of life is within reach.”

He adds, “In addition to the documented clinical benefits, the program can also offer value to providers in the form of higher resident and family member satisfaction, positive word of mouth and program differentiation. This has been our experience in the communities that we serve.”

More About Dr. John Zeisel and Hearthstone

Dr. Zeisel’s groundbreaking approach to care was featured recently in an article by Angela Lunde, editor of the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Blog, titledChoice and Control Matter for Those Living with Dementia Care. He also hosts the national public television program Hopeful Aging and is the author of the best-selling book, I’m Still Here: A New Philosophy in Alzheimer’s Care. Beginning this summer, Dr. Zeisel will write a recurring blog for the Mayo Clinic website.

His Hearthstone Alzheimer Care is a fully integrated memory care organization that includes a Clinical Research Division, a training institute that provides training to a variety of senior living communities nationwide and a foundation to sustain Hearthstone’s research initiatives and educational mission. Hearthstone also provides cutting edge memory care services to five communities in Massachusetts and New York.

Of interest, Charter House, a Mayo Clinic Retirement Community, is one of Hearthstone’s many prominent memory care Training Institute clients.

For More Information…

Additional information on the Scripted-IMPROVTM memory care therapy program can be obtained by calling or e-mailing Ms. Drew Walker at 774-348-4988 or

Editor’s Note: SageAge Strategies is currently working with Dr. Zeisel to assist in publicizing the results of his three-year clinical trial to the national media and to senior living trade associations.

We Would Love to Hear from You!

If you have comments or questions on the subject of life enrichment programs for memory care residents, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any experiences you’ve had in this area, whether they have been successful or not. Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

Learn More About Our Evidence-Based Growth Solutions Today.

As “mature market” growth experts, SageAge Strategies is the ideal partner for your organization’s sustainable success. We excel in solving problems and finding solutions to the needs of growth-oriented senior living and senior care providers nationwide. If you are considering the need for assistance in implementing best-practice solutions for traditional and online environments, we encourage you to contact us for more information today.

SageAge Strategies is a multiple award-winning strategic growth and marketing organization that operates exclusively in the senior living industry and was recently named one of Inc. Magazine’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America. For more information, please call or e-mail Adrienne Mansfield Straub at 570-601-1720 ext. 202 /

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