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Procedural Memory and Emotional Attachment in Alzheimer Disease: Implications for Meaningful and Engaging Activities

Vance, David E.; Moore, Barbara S.; Farr, Kenneth F.; Struzick, Tom

Journal of Neuroscience Nursing: April 2008 - Volume 40 - Issue 2 - p 96–102
Then & Now

With an increasing number of older adults being diagnosed with Alzheimer disease, the need to find meaningful and enjoyable activities in which they can successfully engage is important for providing good quality of life while preventing behavioral difficulties that often accompany this diagnosis. Dementia‐related neuropsychological impairments hinder engagement in a variety of enjoyable activities. For many older adults with Alzheimer disease who have been involved in a religious tradition, wellrehearsed rituals and emotionally salient behaviors can be employed well into the later stages of this disease. An approach called procedural and emotional religious activity therapy, or PERAT, can provide enjoyable and meaningful activities that may reduce agitation and increase quality of life for patients as well as for caregivers. Knowledge about the neuropsychology of procedural and emotional memory is needed to understand how PERAT works.

Questions or comments about this article may be directed to David E. Vance, PhD MGS MS BS, at devance@uab.edu. He is an assistant professor in the school of nursing at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Barbara S. Moore, DSN RN NHA, is an assistant professor in the school of nursing at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Kenneth F. Farr, MS CNS BC, is a clinical nurse specialist and instructor in the school of nursing at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Tom Struzick, MSW/ACSW LCSW MEd, is an associate director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Center for the Study of Community Health.

© 2008 American Association of Neuroscience Nurses