A recent study conducted by researches at Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University showed that the enhanced living environment and memory care program at Briarcliffe Gardens in Johnston, RI had a positive impact on residents' mood and quality of life. The study, authored by Beth Springate, Akshay Talwar and Geoffrey Tremont, has been accepted for and is currently scheduled to be published in the December issue of the Journal of Housing for the Elderly.
Thirty-nine individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia who were admitted to briarcliffe Gardens completed tests of memory, thinking skills, and mood, and their family members reported on behavioral changes and quality of life within two weeks of admission. These measures were repeated at 3 and 6 months. The physical environment and care programming at Briarcliffe Gardens was designed based on research evidence and focused on creating a home like environment. Other features include healthy meals and nutrition and numerous social and recreational activities. Results showed that despite cognitive decline over the course of the study, there were no declines in quality of life or increases in behavioral symptoms. In addition, residents reported improved feelings of fear, anger, and sadness and increases in happiness.
Taken together, findings from this study provide preliminary evidence that moving from home to an AL facility designed specifically for individuals with memory disorders may positively impact individuals' mood with no negative impact on quality of life or presence of neuropsychiatric symptoms. These results suggeest environmental modifications to assisted living facilities have the potential to be beneficial to their residents and would benefit from continued research.