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Does theatre improve the quality of life of people with dementia?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 November 2011

A. Marijke van Dijk*
Department of Psychiatry, Alzheimer Center, EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VUMC, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Julia C. M. van Weert
Amsterdam School of Communication Research ASCoR, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Rose-Marie Dröes
Department of Psychiatry/Department of Nursing Home Medicine, Alzheimer Center, EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VUMC, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Correspondence should be addressed to: Marijke van Dijk, Department of Psychiatry, Alzheimer Center, EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VUMC, Valeriusplein 9, 1075 BG Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Phone: +31-20-7885665; Fax: +31-20-7885649. Email:


Background: A new communication method, the “Veder method”, has recently been developed. Caregivers are trained to apply this method in a group activity (“living-room theatre activity”) for people with dementia in which theatrical stimuli are used in combination with proven emotion-oriented care methods. The aim of this exploratory study was to evaluate the added value of the Veder method group activity compared to a regular reminiscence group activity and to investigate whether professional carers can achieve the same effects with the Veder method as professional actors.

Methods: A quasi-experimental three-group design was used. Experimental group 1 (E1; n = 65) joined a living-room theatre activity offered by trained professional caregivers. Experimental group 2 (E2; n = 31) joined a living-room theatre activity offered by professional actors. The control group (n = 55) received a usual reminiscence group activity. Behavior, mood and aspects of quality of life were measured using standardized observation scales at three points in time: (T1) pretest; (T2) during the intervention and; (T3) post-test, two hours after the intervention.

Results: During the intervention, significant differences were found in favor of the group that was offered a living-room theatre activity by actors (E2) on different aspects of behavior, mood and quality of life. At post-test, people in E2 were more alert compared to the control group. Moreover, they recalled more memories and showed less socially isolated behavior compared to the control group.

Conclusion: This exploratory study shows that the Veder method has some clear positive effects on behavior and mood of people with dementia when applied by professional actors.

Research Article
Copyright © International Psychogeriatric Association 2011

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