WellStar School of Nursing

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Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative condition that affects cognition, mental and physical health, and functionality of older people. As the disease progresses from the mild to moderate stage, there is a concomitant increase in several behavioral variables, chiefly agitation, anger, and aggression. Currently, there are no evidence-based treatments for these behaviors in this population. Three individuals with moderate Alzheimer’s disease were taught an informal mindfulness practice, meditation on the Soles of the Feet (SoF), as a self-management strategy within a multiple-baseline design across participants. All three were able to learn and use the SoF practice to manage their verbal and physical aggression. Their use of the SoF practice was correlated with decreased perceived psychological stress for their spouses and caregivers, as well as for the participants, but to a much smaller degree. In terms of social validity, the participants, their spouses, and caregivers rated the SoF practice as acceptable, effective, with no unintended effects, and indicated that they would recommend the practice to others. However, they also rated SoF as effortful for the participants because it involves the participants remembering to use the practice with rising anger, a requirement particularly challenging for those with memory problems. The SoF practice may enable individuals in the early stages of dementia to manage their anger and aggression. The data were derived from an internally valid experimental design, suggestive of initial proof-of-concept, but needs to be replicated before any clinical implications can be imputed from this study.

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