Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 1-1-2016


Worldwide Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Occupational Therapy


Rangos School of Health Sciences

Committee Chair

Ann Stuart

Committee Member

Rick McCown

Committee Member

Connie Moss


Overall Problem

More than 10 million family members care for an older adult with dementia in the community. Due to the progressive nature of dementia, a high burden of care is placed on caregivers. Adult day centers offer respite, but while providing families temporary relief from caregiving responsibilities, they do not emphasize interventions for individuals with dementia. Agitation, a symptom of dementia, can affect both the older adult and others around them negatively. When the caregivers of older adults with dementia receive proper education about interacting with and caring for someone with this progressive disease, the quality of life of the older adults and caregivers improve.

Aim and Purpose

The aim of this Capstone project was to create a program for older adults with dementia and their caregivers. The program was designed to decrease older adults’ agitation and provide education to caregivers about appropriate strategies for managing agitation and utilizing effectivecommunication. The Capstone project incorporated technology through the use of applications (apps) on an iPad to deliver both interventions and education.


Repeated measures included the Agitated Behavior Scale and observation of nonverbal satisfaction. A revised Learning About Dementia: Test Questions and Family Education Questionnaire were used as pre/posttest and posttest only measures, respectively.


A total of five older adults with dementia participated in the agitation component of the program. For the educational component of the program, a total of eight family caregivers received educational information, but data was only collected from six of the participants.


The Interpersonal APProach to Dementia program was conducted at Community LIFE: East End, an adult day center in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania. Four apps were utilized for the agitation component of the program. For the educational component, meetings or email correspondence with caregivers occurred to discuss important information about dementia, including common symptoms and how to interact with individuals with this diagnosis.

Key Findings

The long-term effects of the apps on decreasing agitation were not statistically significant. However, multiple factors, including small sample size and consistent ABS scores for participants, were taken into consideration. Caregivers’ knowledge about dementia increased significantly after program participation.