Characteristics of Activities for Persons with Dementia at the Mild, Moderate, and Severe Stages

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose To understand activity in dementia care, we examine relationships of disease stage with types and characteristics of meaningful activities (cueing needs, help with initiation, and recommended engagement time) provided in a home-based intervention trial designed to reduce behavioral symptoms. Design and Methods Data involved 158 activity prescriptions or written documents detailing prescribed activities, cueing needs, and engagement goals designed by occupational therapists for 56 families. Activities were categorized as arts and crafts, exercise/physical, cognitive, music/entertainment, manipulation/sensory/sorting, family/social/ reminiscence, and domestic/homemaking. Bivariate correlations examined relationships of activity categories and characteristics with disease stage (mild, moderate, or severe). Kruskal-Wallis H tests examined differences among disease stages and frequency of type of activities prescribed, recommended cues, and engagement time. For significant Kruskal-Wallis tests, pairwise comparisons utilized the Mann-Whitney U test. Results Activity categories and instructions for set up were significantly related to cognitive and functional levels. Persons with mild dementia were most often prescribed complex arts and crafts and cognitive activities. Persons with moderate dementia were most often prescribed music/entertainment. Persons with severe dementia were most often prescribed simple physical exercises and manipulation/sensory/sorting activities. Average time prescribed for activities was less for those in severe (15min) versus moderate (24min) and mild (28min) stages. The severe group required more assistance with activity initiation and cueing/redirection. Implications Type of activity, recommended cueing, and engagement time differed by dementia stage. Findings provide guidance as to how to use and set up activities across the dementia trajectory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)987-997
Number of pages11
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017


  • Behaviors
  • Caregiver
  • Dementia
  • Meaningful activity
  • Nonpharmacological intervention
  • Tailoring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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