OPTIMA Award: The SAIDO clinical trial

The Eliza Jennings Senior Care Network’s latest memory care journey began with a rare opportunity: To serve as the only U.S. site for a clinical trial on a new dementia program from Japan. SAIDO Learning, which uses simple math and vocaublary exercises to stimulate the brain's prefrontal cortex, has been used in Japan for the past 11 years but had never been formally introduced to the United States.

The program's developers proposed a U.S. clinical trial, which took place at the Eliza Jennings Home in Lakewood, Ohio, from May to November 2011, with a control group at the network’s Renaissance Retirement Campus in Olmsted Township, Ohio. Twenty-three residents with mild to moderate dementia, as well as 24 residents serving as controls, committed to the sessions for 30 minutes, five days a week. Dr. Ryuta Kawashima, the neuroscientist who developed SAIDO with the Kumon Institute of Education in Japan, was the principal investigator.

| Related article: How SAIDO Learning works |

According to Eliza Jennings, every learner participating in SAIDO improved in performance on one or both standard assessments of cognitive impairment given (the Mini-Mental State Examination, or MMSE, and the Frontal Assessment Battery at Bedside, or FAB), as shown in the accompanying graphics. Qualitatively, they showed increased independence in their performance of activities of daily living (ADLs), increased social interaction and engagement, and decreased behaviors related to dementia. Those in the control group continued to demonstrate the cognitive decline and social-emotional barriers typical of those with dementia. 

"The staff itself was becoming more aware of their role in helping the residents who participated in the trial, and even those who were not, to actually improve, leading to increased observation skills and confidence in their own abilities," the Eliza Jennings leaders wrote in their OPTIMA Award nomination submission. "At the end of the trial, residents were writing their names, addressing staff by name, initiating conversations, successfully locating their rooms, resuming hobbies such as knitting, expressing their preferences more, making choices and expressing dislikes. They also became increasingly independent in performing ADLs, attended activities more, came out of the rooms for meals more often and exhibited fewer instances of wandering and calling out."

Peggy McDonald, the chief lead supporter at the Eliza Jennings Home, offers anecdotal evidence of effectiveness, too, saying she has noticed a change in the residents (called learners in the SAIDO Learning program) with whom she has worked. “I’ve seen a gentleman who didn’t have any self-esteem left because he’s wheelchair-bound. He wouldn’t come out in the dining room. He never would look you in the eye,” she recalls. The man subsequently conversed with people and remembered those conversations, she adds. “They called me from the dining room once and said to me, ‘What did you do to Chester?’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ They said, ‘All of the sudden, he’s telling us how he wants his bread. “Don’t toast my bread.” ’ How wonderful is that?”

| Related content: SAIDO Learning: Seeing is believing [PODCAST] |

At the conclusion of the trial, Eliza Jennings decided to offer the SAIDO program at all of the locations in its Northeast Ohio-based network.

Click on the OPTIMA Award Seal (upper left) to see larger images of the study results and additional information.

Related SAIDO and OPTIMA Award winner coverage:
The gift of the present
How SAIDO Learning works
SAIDO Learning: A timeline
One-on-one with… Chelley Antonczak
SAIDO Learning in action: A typical session [VIDEO]
Blog: The elusive high five
SAIDO Learning: Seeing is believing [PODCAST]
SAIDO Learning: 'It's remarkable' [PODCAST]

Topics: Activities , Alzheimer's/Dementia , Articles , Clinical , Executive Leadership