Current Projects

ForAging Study

Juleen Rodakowski, OTD, MS, OTR/L,  FAOTA
(Principle Investigator)

Examining community-based interventions to support aging in place 
Aging with a neurodegenerative condition, such as Mild Cognitive Impairment, poses several unique challenges. We elucidate the factors that influence disability for these vulnerable older adults, as well as test interventions that slow decline to disability for this population. The goal of this work is to support millions of older adults to age-in-place by allowing those with mild cognitive changes to benefit from effective community-based rehabilitation services. 

Investigating factors that influence caregivers 
Informal caregivers support independent living for their care-recipients by supporting them in activities of daily living. Caregivers are themselves at risk for morbidity and disability, which in turn increases care-recipient disability and rates of institutionalization. We investigate the complexity of the factors that influence caregiver and care-recipient outcomes. This work ensures that caregivers have the adequate knowledge and skills required to support their loved one, as well as themselves. With effective supports, care-recipient disability and rates of institutionalization are decreased, and caregiver morbidity and disability are minimized. 

BriTE Program: Creating Music Programs for Older Adults with Changing Cognition

Jennie Dorris, MM
PhD Student (Rehabilitation Science)

Development of Music Interventions for Older Adults
The BriTE Wellness Center is an innovative center which promotes brain and physical health and wellness by providing integrated activities in a stimulating social environment. BriTE’s music program, taught by leading music therapists and teaching artists, has partnered with researcher Jennie Dorris to explore the key ingredients for music interventions for older adults. >> Watch our video to learn more about our program.

The research team recently published “Effects of music participation for mild cognitive impairment and dementia: A systematic review and meta-analysis” in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The research found that actively participation in music caused a small, positive effect on cognitive functioning. The research has been featured in Prevention MagazineMartha Stewart, and the Daily Mail.

ENGAGE Study: Behavioral Activation in the Morning for Dementia Caregivers (BAM for dCGs)

Avital S. Isenberg, CScD, MS, OTR/L

Understanding and Delivering Cognitive and Psychosocial Interventions for Daily Activities
ENGAGE is a study through the Department of Psychiatry that examines the relationship between morning inactivity and increased depression symptoms in caregivers of people with dementia. BAM utilizes behavioral activation intervention protocols to determine whether increased morning activity reduces depression in this population. Participants develop and complete individualized goals for morning activation in a 9-week Zoom intervention protocol.