An estimated 5.3 million Americans are currently suffering from Alzheimer's disease (AD), and AD cases are expected to rise at an alarming rate (AD;Alzheimer's Association, 2010). Therefore, market potential exists for products, approaches, and/or training that can help treat and/or circumvent the challenging behaviors associated with the condition. One approach that has been shown to be effective involves the use of Montessori Activity Programming (MAP;Camp, 1999a;Camp, in press). MAP consists of a set of principles for developing and facilitating activities for engaging persons with dementia. In this study, we will develop a new Montessori-based activity: Hearthside Book ClubTM stories, which will be the first-ever dementia-level appropriate reading materials. Twenty topics will be chosen which are familiar and interesting to many older adults. For each topic, three different versions of the story/essay will be created. Developed for persons in the early stages of dementia, """"""""A-Grade Level Reading Materials"""""""" will be 30 pages in length and be written at an 9th grade level;""""""""AA-Grade Level Reading Materials"""""""", developed for persons in the Middle Stages of dementia, will be 20 pages in length and will be written at the 6th grade level;finally, """"""""AAA-Grade Level Stories"""""""", created for persons in the Late Stages of Dementia, will be 10 pages in length, and will be written at the 3rd grade level. A total of 60 stories will be created for this study (20 topics at three reading levels). Half of the Hearthside Book ClubTM booklets (split equally among all reading levels) will contain pictures. Forty-five older adults with dementia will take part in the study. They will be assigned to one of three groups: the Early Stage Group (Mini-Mental Status Exam (MMSE) score of 18+), the Middle Stage Group (MMSE 11- 17), or the Late Stage Group (MMSE 5-10). The engagement/affect of persons taking part in Hearthside Book ClubTM sessions will be compared against the engagement/affect of participants in baseline activities (e.g., bingo, current events, exercise, etc.) Hearthstone Book ClubTM sessions will also be compared against the engagement/affect of participants in small-group sessions using Reading Roundtable(R) booklets, which are designed for persons with dementia, but they are not adjusted for varying levels of dementia. Proximal outcome measures will involve engagement and affect, communications, and behaviors observed during small group reading activities. Distal outcome measures will assess agitation, depression, and quality of life. Measures will be taken at baseline, after two weeks of taking part in Reading Roundtable(R) sessions, and after taking part in level-matched reading materials sessions.
The Specific Aims of this project are as follows: (1) to develop reading materials (with and without pictures) tailored specifically to persons with varying levels of dementia;(2) to determine if matching text materials to levels of dementia is related to proximal and distal outcomes across levels of dementia;(3) to determine if the inclusion of pictures significantly relates to proximal and distal outcomes across levels of dementia.

Public Health Relevance

An estimated 5.3 million Americans are currently suffering from Alzheimer's disease (AD), and AD cases are expected to rise at an alarming rate. Besides affecting the person with the condition, AD also presents a public health concern, due to the significant cost required to care for persons with dementia and due to the mental and physical stress placed upon caregivers of persons with dementia. So, there is an urgent need for products and programs that will engage and stimulate persons with dementia, while at the same time reducing the stress on caregivers. Through the development of special reading materials for persons of varying levels of dementia, the proposed project will help meet this need.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase I (R43)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-RPHB-C (10))
Program Officer
Ryan, Laurie M
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Hearthstone Alzheimer Care, Ltd
United States
Zip Code