Neurons in Neighborhoods: How Purposeful Participation in a Community-based Intergenerational Program Enhanced Quality of Life for Persons Living with Dementia



This chapter discusses a community-based, non-pharmacological intervention for persons with dementia who engaged as weekly volunteers with students at The Intergenerational School (TIS) in Cleveland, Ohio, over a 5-month period. Concurrent quantitative and qualitative methods were used to investigate the meaning of quality of life (QOL) for persons with mild-to-moderate dementia, and to evaluate through a randomized control trial design whether an intergenerational volunteering program would enhance QOL for participants. Quality of life, a conceptual category that approximates the degree of well-being felt by an individual or group, was defined expansively, encompassing five variables that have been strongly associated with QOL in previous studies: cognitive functioning, stress, depression, sense of purpose, and sense of usefulness. Thus, while cognition was viewed as indispensable to QOL, it was part of a larger biopsychosocial constellation of variables believed to play a role in the wellness of aging persons.


Assisted Living Intergenerational Relationship Intergenerational Exchange Oral History Interview Intergenerational Interaction 



This study was undertaken as part of Daniel George’s doctoral research in the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology at Oxford University, which was supported by the ORS Scholarship Fund. Additional funding for fieldwork and writing was provided by the Takayama Foundation, the Greenwald Foundation, the Fondation Médéric Alzheimer, and Alzheimer’s Disease International. Special thanks to Dr. Peter Whitehouse, Dr. Stanley Ulijaszek and Dr. Harvey Whitehouse.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HumanitiesCollege of Medicine, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical CenterHersheyUSA

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