An exploratory study of the effects of a training program on the ability to prepare a breakfast meal by clients with mild Alzheimer's disease

Alicia J Curtin, University of Rhode Island


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by the insidious onset of an array of cognitive deficits that progress over time and lead to changes in an individual's ability to even perform simple tasks, such as preparing meals. Recently, researchers have demonstrated that clients with mild AD have preserved procedural memory function despite significant cognitive deficits. Procedural memory is an automatic, unconscious process, requiring practice and repetition to activate the particular structures involved in learning tasks. Skills training is a strategy using repetition and practice to enhance the client's ability to perform a certain task. ^ An exploratory design using direct observation and interview was used to examine to what extent a training program decreased the need of baseline verbal, visual, and/or physical prompting in preparing a breakfast meal by clients with mild AD. The facilitators and obstacles to the implementation of this home-based program and the clients' and caregivers' perceptions of the program were described. ^ Five female clients diagnosed with late onset, mild Alzheimer's disease and ranging in age from 71–85 completed the study. In three cases, the husband was the primary caregiver and was living at home with the client. In the two remaining cases, the caregivers included a daughter and a hired female companion, neither of whom lived in the home with the client. ^ All five clients decreased their need for prompting in performing a meal task from baseline to the final training session. The most frequent type of prompt needed was verbal. None of the clients achieved total independence in performing the task. ^ The presence of a supportive caregiver, the client's insight into the memory loss, the presence of the researcher, and the individualization of the program were factors that facilitated the implementation of the program. The caregiver, client, and researcher also acted as obstacles at times. ^ This study was an initial step toward designing an effective nursing intervention to promote the functional ability of clients with mild AD in the home setting. For clients with mild AD, behavioral strategies, such as skills training, maybe useful in promoting independence in certain procedural tasks important for daily living. ^

Subject Area

Health Sciences, Rehabilitation and Therapy|Health Sciences, Nursing

Recommended Citation

Alicia J Curtin, "An exploratory study of the effects of a training program on the ability to prepare a breakfast meal by clients with mild Alzheimer's disease" (2002). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3053101.