The poet Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” When you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, research show this is important information to remember.
Alzheimer’s Memory and Emotions Clinical Study
In a study conducted at the University of Iowa researchers set out to explore how environment impacts the emotions of people with Alzheimer’s disease. They were specifically interested in seeing if and how a positive experience might help to improve the quality of life for an adult with memory loss.
This study was conducted with a group of 34 older adults. Half of the participants had previously been diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s disease, while the other half were considered to be healthy.
Scientists first asked each member of the group how they were feeling. Once their responses were documented, they were shown eight different movie and television scenes considered to evoke sadness.
Five minutes after the participants were done viewing the scenes, researchers asked each of them what they remembered and how they were feeling. They repeated the questions after 15 minutes and again 30 minutes later.
After a five minute break, the study moved on to happier scenes.
This time around group members watched movie and television clips believed to induce happiness. The scientists used the same follow-up question sequence as before.
Emotions Linger When Memory Fails
The study revealed that even though participants were unable to remember what they watched in the clips, they did remember how the scenes made them feel. While the memories were gone, the emotions they created lingered. Unfortunately, feelings of sadness lasted longer than happiness.
While this study was conducted with a very small group of participants, scientists in the field of Alzheimer’s research say it reinforces their belief that creating a positive environment is critical for people with the disease.
Memory care programs, like the Bridge to Rediscovery Dementia Care at Five Star Senior Living, create a positive environment that helps older adults with Alzheimer’s disease live their best life.
To learn more about alternative therapies for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, download Alternative and Complementary Therapies and Dementia. The free guide can help caregivers learn how to use music, art and more to create a more positive home environment.