Although very little can be done to alter the course of dementia, much can be done to maximize the quality of life of people with the condition. Research as well as practical experience suggest that behavior management, especially through programs that provide meaningful and constructive activity, is currently the most effective treatment. In Keeping Busy, James Dowling describes a variety of activities designed to bring meaning and enjoyment to the lives of persons with dementia. The activities are organized by general categories such as music, exercise, horticulture, pets, humor, and social events. The largest section deals with communication and includes word games that help people strengthen their remaining verbal skills. The description of each activity includes step-by-step instructions, as well as tips on how to adapt it for small or large groups, for individuals at home or in an organization, or people who are bedridden.
James R. Dowling is an activity specialist at Center in Gardiner, Maine, a model residential facility that has pioneered social and the Alzheimer's Care cognitive interventions in the day-to-day treatment of individuals with Alzheimer disease and related conditions. He frequently speaks and conducts workshops on behavior management of persons with dementia.