Education Division Scholarship

Rethinking interventions for dementia through a nonpharmaceutical lens: An analysis of five interventions


Denise Calhoun

Document Type


Publication Date



The future welfare of older adults is a worldwide concern. By 2034, it is estimated that individuals 65 and older in the U.S. will be 77 million. Consequently, this reality will impact healthcare facilities and increase Medicare and Medicaid costs, resulting in higher incidents of homeless older adults, children caring for parents, the need for more caregivers, and an increased number of older individuals experiencing various forms of dementia. To address these concerns, the current trend for treating the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease has been moving toward nonpharmaceutical interventions. Even though researchers have tapped into the benefits of several nonpharmaceutical treatments, there appears to be a constant debate on establishing which method is most effective. Deciding on best practices and methods to slow down and/or halt the progression of dementia is the gap this research needs to fill. To provide clarity on the topic, an analysis of alternative interventions to treat the onset of dementia is what this paper strived to achieve. The analysis involved comparing and contrasting the benefits of each intervention as well as illustrating the implications of the findings. In this regard, a systematic review was conducted examining the benefits of five nonpharmaceutical strategies; mental training, music therapy, technology usage, physical activity, and social interaction. Although findings revealed some form of improvement in each of the nonpharmacological interventions examined, the overarching theme appeared to lean toward providing mental stimulation. It was also not conclusive that physical activity prevented cognitive decline. More research is recommended.

Publication Title

Educational Gerontology