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Dyadic Group Exercises for Persons with Memory Deficits and Care Partners: Mixed-Method Findings from the Paired Preventing Loss of Independence through Exercise (PLIÉ) Randomized Trial

Non-pharmacological therapies for persons with dementia (PWD) are needed. To develop and test the Paired Preventing Loss of Independence through Exercise (PLIÉ) program, an integrative group movement program for PWD and care partners (CPs). Participants were randomized to immediate or delayed start to Paired PLIÉ in community-based classes (1 hour, 2 days/week, 12 weeks, 3 home visits). Co-primary outcomes included standard measures of cognition, physical function,and quality of life (PWD) and caregiver burden (CPs) assessed by blinded assessors, analyzed using linear mixed models to calculate effect sizes for outcome changes during Paired PLIÉ, controlling for randomization group. Anonymous satisfaction surveys included satisfaction ratings and thematic analysis of open-ended responses. Thirty dyads enrolled, 24 (80%) completed. PWD (mean age 80; 55% female) experienced significant improvement in self-rated quality of life (Effect Size+0.23; p = 0.016) when participating in Paired PLIÉ, while CPs experienced a non-significant increase in burden (-0.23, p = 0.079). Changes in physical and cognitive function in PWD were not significant. All CPs returning the satisfaction survey (n = 20) reported being moderately-to-highly satisfied with the program. Thematic analyses identified physical (e.g., sit-to-stand, more energy), emotional (enjoyment), and social benefits (peer-to-peer interaction) for PWD and CPs; challenges were primarily related to getting to the in-person classes. Paired PLIÉ is a promising integrative group movement program that warrants further study. It is feasible and may improve self-rated quality of life in PWD. Although CPs may experience increased burden due to logistical challenges, most reported high satisfaction and physical, emotional, and social benefits.

Authors: Mehling, Wolf E; Scott, Travis M; Duffy, James; Whitmer, Rachel A; Chesney, Margaret A; Boscardin, W John; Barnes, Deborah E

J Alzheimers Dis. 2020;78(4):1689-1706.

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