Pharm.D. (six years)
Ward, Kristina, E.
Pharmacy Practice (PHP)
dementia; quality of life; music therapy; art therapy; phototherapy; animal assisted therapy
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Dementia is a devastating set of diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia, and more, with a few theories of cause, but no certainties. One major theory behind Alzheimer’s disease involves a deficit of an important neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, in the brain. Few pharmacologic options are available to treat the symptoms or slow the progression of dementia, and the options we do have are indicated for Alzheimer’s disease. Most of the pharmacologic options for Alzheimer’s disease work by increasing the amount of acetylcholine in the brain, but none offer a cure. Often, dementia leaves the person helpless, with no answers. The family and friends of those suffering from dementia must learn to cope and maintain communication with that person, which can be challenging. In addition, watching a loved one go through such a difficult and dramatic psychological change is heartbreaking. Any improvement to the quality of life of a patient suffering from dementia would ease the minds of family and friends, in addition to allowing the patient to enjoy his/her final days.
The current project was designed to research various forms of alternative therapies, including music, art, photo, and animal assisted therapies as a means to improve the quality of life of patients with dementia. I conducted a systematic review of published trials to determine what forms of non-pharmacological therapies, if any, may be beneficial to the quality of life and therefore have a clinical application for use. Hopefully, the findings will provide viable palliative options for patients with dementia so as to ease the burden of this disease on the patient, family, and friends.