Faculty Hope Respite Video Will Make a Difference

OGDEN, Utah – Mary Ann Anderson knows the clock never stops for caregivers of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

So Anderson and two of her colleagues in Weber State University’s nursing
department are compiling a videotape of familiar nursery rhymes in an effort to help caregivers and patients with dementia.

 Anderson, Diane Leggett and Tamara Chase are collaborating with WSU’s Communication Arts & Technologies (CATS) department to produce a new respite video designed to provide a break for caregivers by engaging Alzheimer’s patients.

 Respite videos are 20-minute long videotapes used to engage individuals suffering from dementia. Studies have shown respite videos that present generic subjects from a patient’s past can capture their attention and entertain. Previous respite videos have used hymns and patriotic music as themes to connect with patients.

“Twenty minutes allows a caregiver to make a phone call or read a magazine or other diversion to break up the demand of looking after a loved one suffering from dementia,” said Chase.

Anderson’s research on effective interventions for patients with dementia shows respite videos provide benefits for patients, as well as caregivers, by promoting a low-stress atmosphere for patients.

 “Stressful situations tend to increase the occurrence of dysfunctional behavior in people with dementia,” Anderson said. “These videos provide a restful, happy time for them, free of stress.”

The respite video being produced at WSU will feature children reciting nursery rhymes with agrarian themes. To further engage viewers, the video will feature barnyard animals mentioned in the verses. In between the nursery rhymes, the video will present interactive opportunities encouraging viewers to perform simple actions such as clapping their hands. Images of people clapping or demonstrating other actions will appear to further stimulate response.

Working with the CATS department has dramatically reduced the cost of producing and  distributing the videos to long-term care facilities along the Wasatch Front. Respite videos were originally designed to help care providers in the home, but they have proven equally useful in institutional settings.

 Anderson, Chase and Leggett are using their own money to cover the cost of distributing close to 100 copies of the video. They hope their work will lead to grant funding of similar projects in the future.

The plan is to videotape the children and animals on October 4, and distribute it to caregivers on October 26, which is Make A Difference Day nationwide. Make A Difference Day was established to mobilize volunteers to get involved in community service projects aimed at helping others.

Mary Ann Anderson, nursing instructor
(801) 626-6663 · maanderson@weber.edu



John Kowalewski, director of Media Relations
(801) 626-7212 · jkowalewski@weber.edu