To view an abstract, select an author from the vertical list on the left.
2017 Grants - Aguinaga
STAND UP: Sitting Time, Activity, and Dementia in Underserved Populations
Susan Aguiñaga, Ph.D.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
2017 Alzheimer's Association Research Fellowship to Promote Diversity (AARF-D)
Can older people from underserved communities benefit from physical activity programs in adult day service settings?
Many studies have found that physical activity can help improve memory and other cognitive functions in older people. It may also enable them to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease. One setting in which physical activity programs can be especially helpful is the adult day service. This resource is designed to provide daytime social and health care needs to seniors who require such services. Many adult day centers offer physical activity programs, but they are not required to do so. Moreover, no peer-reviewed study has assessed the effectiveness of such programs in this setting.
For their grant, Susan Aguiñaga, Ph.D., and colleagues will conduct a study of seven adult day services in Chicago and other Illinois cities. All of the centers offer assistance to people from underserved communities, who can be especially vulnerable to health problems later in life. Dr. Aguiñaga's study will examine how physical activity affects the brain health of 140 African American and Latino participants from these centers who do not have dementia.
Participants will complete a series of tests to determine their cognitive and physical health at the beginning of the study and after six months. They will also wear monitoring devices that measure their levels of physical activity and sedentary behavior during the day. Using data from these tests and monitoring devices, the researchers will assess how different levels of physical activity or sedentary behavior affected the participants' cognitive abilities over time. They hypothesize that higher physical activity levels will result in improved cognitive function. Dr. Aguiñaga's team will also interview the director of each adult day center to determine what factors either encouraged or inhibited the center from implementing physical activity programs.
The results of this study could shed new light on how physical exercise improves brain health in a managed care setting. Dr. Aguiñaga plans to share her findings with other adult day centers and with organizations that govern the centers, including the Illinois Department of Aging. Ultimately, such work could convince more centers to offer physical activity programs, potentially reducing the burden of dementia in underserved communities and in the larger population.