Does theatre improve the quality of life of people with dementia?

Int Psychogeriatr. 2012 Mar;24(3):367-81. doi: 10.1017/S1041610211001992. Epub 2011 Nov 1.


Background: A new communication method, the "Veder method", has recently been developed. Caregivers are trained to apply this method in a group activity ("living-room theatre activity") for people with dementia in which theatrical stimuli are used in combination with proven emotion-oriented care methods. The aim of this exploratory study was to evaluate the added value of the Veder method group activity compared to a regular reminiscence group activity and to investigate whether professional carers can achieve the same effects with the Veder method as professional actors.

Methods: A quasi-experimental three-group design was used. Experimental group 1 (E1; n = 65) joined a living-room theatre activity offered by trained professional caregivers. Experimental group 2 (E2; n = 31) joined a living-room theatre activity offered by professional actors. The control group (n = 55) received a usual reminiscence group activity. Behavior, mood and aspects of quality of life were measured using standardized observation scales at three points in time: (T1) pretest; (T2) during the intervention and; (T3) post-test, two hours after the intervention.

Results: During the intervention, significant differences were found in favor of the group that was offered a living-room theatre activity by actors (E2) on different aspects of behavior, mood and quality of life. At post-test, people in E2 were more alert compared to the control group. Moreover, they recalled more memories and showed less socially isolated behavior compared to the control group.

Conclusion: This exploratory study shows that the Veder method has some clear positive effects on behavior and mood of people with dementia when applied by professional actors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / nursing*
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology*
  • Caregivers / education
  • Dementia, Vascular / nursing*
  • Dementia, Vascular / psychology*
  • Emotions
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Home Nursing / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training
  • Male
  • Memory, Episodic
  • Mental Status Schedule
  • Psychodrama / methods*
  • Psychotherapy, Group / methods*
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Social Behavior