Part III: Alzheimer’s and Dementia Research in San Diego

By: HarborView Senior Assisted Living

Thanks for joining us for part three of our series on dementia and Alzheimer’s research! If you or a loved one was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or Lewy Body Dementia (LBD), you are probably experiencing a wide range of emotions. This is very normal and coming to a place of acceptance with a memory related diagnosis is always a difficult journey. Further along in the journey you might find yourself wanting to look into studies and relevant research to better understand this family of diseases. In this series, we will review some of the milestone studies related to Alzheimer’s disease, discuss types of research methods, discuss elements of research, and look into the application of methods to quantitative approaches. We will also explore how to evaluate research and identify the signs of a high quality study. Evidence-based care is a huge priority for us at Harbor View Senior Assisted Living (as well as at our sister sites, Mesa View Senior Assisted Living and Bay View Assisted Living) and we hope you will appreciate diving into the research with us!

In part three of this series on research related to dementia and Alzheimer’s, we will continue to explore the elements of research. We will describe the following elements of research: the results and discussion, the method and the analysis. We will also begin to explore data analysis.

The method refers to the actual way in which the study is carried out. It includes the setting, the sample, data collection and data analysis. The setting is the location in which the study is being carried out. For example, a study could be conducted at a particular assisted living community in Point Loma. Sampling refers to selecting the group from a population that will be studied. Probability and non-probability sampling are the two main types of sampling. Probability sampling only occurs in quantitative studies and is implemented when researchers want to generalize results from a particular sample to a wider population. This is done by randomly choosing a group of subjects from the population. In non-probability sampling the choice of participants for the research is not random. There are various methods for selecting the subjects. One type of non-probability sampling is network or snowball sampling, which refers to a sampling method in which researchers asked participants to identify others who are similar to themselves who might become study subjects. In the Alzheimer’s disease context, this could mean that participants diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease would identify others in their support networks who could also potentially become test subjects.

In Alzheimer’s or memory care research, as in all research studies, there are various methods of collecting data. Data might be collected by observing, asking questions, or by measuring the main variables described in the research question or problem. Interviews gather more in-depth data then self-report questionnaires, however, interviewers take more time and resources to utilize. For example, a skilled interviewer could help to understand the quality of life of someone in an elder care community in San Diego perhaps better than a self-report questionnaire would.

Data analysis refers to the steps of examining, summarizing and bringing together the information gathered to decide if the study findings relate to the research question. In the qualitative approach data analysis continues throughout the entire study. For example, in a study of individuals with dementia, it would be important that the participant interviews continued to validate the researchers interpretation. It’s important that the findings of qualitative research are trustworthy. Some criteria for testing trustworthiness includes transfer ability, firm ability, dependability and credibility. In a memory care setting, researchers would attain credibility by collecting data for a long enough time to make sure that the holistic factors of subjects’ experiences were captured. In the application of methods to quantitative research, it is generally recommended to recruit as wide a sample as possible and then narrow the sample down.

In a quantitative approach it would not be enough to simply study one independent living community in Point Loma, The sample size would need to be much larger than that to be able to make generalizations about the entire population of those living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

We are committed to evidence-based care at Harbor View Senior Assisted Living (as well as at our sister sites, Mesa View Senior Assisted Living and Bay View Assisted Living) and being familiar with relevant research is an important part of the care we provide. Stay tuned for the following parts of this series where we will explore milestones in the research of Alzheimer’s disease, look into the application of methods to quantitative approaches and learn how to evaluate the quality of research studies.

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