Meaningful activity for persons with dementia: family caregiver perspectives

Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen. 2015 Sep;30(6):559-68. doi: 10.1177/1533317515576389. Epub 2015 Mar 18.


Dementia threatens the capacity to engage in activity, suggesting meaningful activity may be helpful for persons with dementia (PWDs). This study explores the concept of meaningful activity, as defined by caregivers of PWDs. Family caregivers of PWDs, who provide 3 hours of care over 3 days/week, were interviewed after 6 months of cholinesterase inhibitors (ChEIs) therapy. Caregiver responses (N = 906) to the open-ended question What do you believe getting involved in activities outside the home means for someone with dementia are assessed. The themes are analyzed in terms of content, frequency, co-occurrence, and dementia severity. Caregivers emphasize the benefits of social connectedness, physical health, and mental stimulation. Activity is also viewed as respite, difficult, and has no meaning for care recipient. The implications of activity for self- and social-identity in PWD and caregiver are discussed. The benefits of activity varied by stage of disease. This knowledge indicates areas for improved activity provision and health care support.

Keywords: apathy; respite; self-worth; social engagement; stimulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Caregivers
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Dementia / drug therapy
  • Dementia / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Qualitative Research
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Social Support


  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors