Market potential exists for development of works of drama that can be performed in facilities providing care for persons with dementia, and which can involve such residents interactively. Therefore, the purpose of this Phase 2 project is to refine two plays created in our Phase 1 SBIR (Life Is A Stage"""""""": Dementia Care and the Dramatic Arts) that can be performed in residences serving persons with dementia, and to create two new plays for this purpose. Plays are designed to provide either a linear or non-linear structure. The linear structure is more narrative-based, with more fixed roles and settings. The non-linear structure relies more on spontaneous and improvisational approaches. In Phase 1, we found that persons with early to moderate dementia were most engaged during the performance of the non-linear play, and those with more advanced dementia were more engaged during the linear play. In the alpha development stage of this Phase 2 grant, the original plays and two new plays (1 linear, 1 non-linear) will be performed in three different types of dementia care settings - Adult Day Care Centers, Assisted Living Facilities, and Special Care Units (SCUs) of long-term care facilities - by acting students used in Phase 1 in two of each type of setting in two geographic areas: the Greater New York City area and in the Greater Boston area. In each specific setting, a linear and a non-linear play will be performed. In the beta development stage, our experiences in the alpha development stage will result in revisions of the four plays. In addition, all scripts, props, instructions (including a DVD showing performances and how to stage the plays) will come out of a package (we call it the """"""""Drama Box"""""""") that Program and Activity Directors would use to put on their own interactive drama programs with clients and residents. All 4 plays in one of each type of dementia care setting will be performed in the Greater Boston area. This product will then be tested in a similar way in one of each type of dementia care setting in the Greater Cleveland, Ohio area. The objectives of the Phase 2 project are: 1) To create use our experience from Phase 1 to revise two interactive plays for persons with dementia developed in Phase 1 and to create 2 new interactive plays;2) To assess whether the type of play - linear or non-linear - differentially affects persons with dementia and their caregivers;3) To determine if engagement is differentially affected by standard programming versus taking part in a play in residents with dementia;4) To determine if perceptions of dementia and capabilities of persons with dementia, along with quality of life measures, change across time after performances;5) To assess whether there are differences in the effects produced by the plays across different residential settings and resident samples;6) To determine if effects produced when plays are performed by actors can be replicated when performances are supervised by activity staff using the beta version of Life Is A Stage"""""""";and 7) To use our experience in the Phase 2 project to create a final, market ready version of the product.

Public Health Relevance

This Phase 2 SBIR project, titled Life Is A Stage: Dementia Care and the Dramatic Arts, involves creation of four plays that will enable persons with dementia in a variety of care settings to take part in improvisational theatre. Based on a similar program called Ladder to the Moon developed in the UK, we will document the positive effects for persons with dementia when they are provided with a chance to take part in dramatic arts.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase II (R44)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-RPHB-C (10))
Program Officer
Bhattacharyya, Partha
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Hearthstone Alzheimer Care, Ltd
United States
Zip Code
Zeisel, John; Reisberg, Barry; Whitehouse, Peter et al. (2016) Ecopsychosocial Interventions in Cognitive Decline and Dementia: A New Terminology and a New Paradigm. Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen 31:502-7