Background: The existing pharmacological treatments for Alzheimer's disease (AD) can only slow the progression of symptoms or delay admission to long-term care facilities. The beneficial effects of non-drug treatments are poorly studied.
Objective: To describe the effects of an Integrated Psychostimulation Program (IPP) in patients with mild-moderate AD treated with acetylcholinesterase inhibitors; and to identify factors related to greater benefit of the IPP.
Methods: 206 patients (mean age = 75.9 years; MMSE = 19.6) were evaluated before starting the IPP and 3, 6, 9, and 12 months later. Measures included: Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), Cognitive Subscale of Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS-Cog), Rapid Disability Rating Scale (RDRS-2), and Neuropsychiatric Inventory Questionnaire (NPI-Q).
Results: Patients remained cognitively stable (MMSE/ADAS-Cog) for more than 6 months and significantly worsened at 9-month and 12-month follow-ups, without clinically significant functional changes (RDRS-2) or psychiatric symptoms(NPI-Q). The mean annual change on MMSE and ADAS-Cog were 2.06 and 3.56 points, respectively, lower than the annual decline demonstrated previously in similar patients (2.4 and 4.5, respectively). 42.7% of patients maintained or improved global cognitive scores between baseline and 12-month follow-up. The patients who maintained cognitive functions were older than those who did not (77.5 versus 74.7 years).
Conclusions: The IPP may be an effective treatment to maintain cognition, functionality, and psychiatric symptoms in AD patients pharmacologically treated, and older age seems to increase beneficial effects of IPP.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Integral Psychostimulation Program; cognition; cognitive stimulation; dementia; functionality; non-pharmacological therapy.