New research is investigating whether violent television programs have a similar impact on the behaviour and sleep quality of aged care residents with dementia as they do on children.
The Australian Catholic University (ACU) and Villa Maria Catholic Homes (VMCH) study is in response to observations that residents were becoming upset while watching some free-to-air TV programs and is part of an ongoing research collaboration between VMCH and ACU to improve quality of care.
The study involves ACU Master of Psychology students Yael Marhaim and Melissa White observing 20 VMCH residents from four facilities in Melbourne for the next six months.
VMCH & ACU Professor of Aged Care Colleen Doyle said the students would investigate the impact of television exposure, including its content and the length of time watched, on the observed behaviour of people living with dementia and their sleep quality.
“In developmental psychology researchers have studied exposure to violent television shows and video games and the impact on children’s behaviour. We want to see whether this applies to people with dementia who may not understand what’s on the television and may lead to them feeling more agitated,” Professor Doyle said.
The project is the result of observations by aged care lifestyle coordinator at VMCH St Catherine’s Facility, Sue Sammartino, who is also taking part in the study.
“We notice agitation in people with dementia when news breaks are broadcast depicting natural disasters, wars, child abuse and animal suffering,” Ms Sammartino said.
“American style talk shows are confronting because of their tendency to raise their voices and talk over each other. This can seem like people arguing, and when a person has limited vision and hearing they can sometimes interpret this as an altercation in their environment from which they want to flee.”
Ms Sammartino said she has worked with residents at VMCH to build up a library of DVDs relevant to their interests, such as music concerts and musical movies, and she hoped that this research would provide evidence on the positive impact of relaxing audio visual experiences for residents.
Ms Marhaim said she and Ms White were excited to begin what they believed was first-of-its-kind research.
“It’s an important topic and we hope the research will result in some positive changes to lifestyle programs and how aged care residences are run to maximise the quality of life for these residents,” Ms Marhaim said.
The pair will undertake observations between January and June 2016 with results expected by November 2016.
Sign up to Technology Review’s weekly e-newsletter for news and analysis, as well as coverage of the latest products, resources and events. You can also follow Technology Review on Twitter. Send your company news, tip-offs and news on tech resources, products and events to email@example.com.