Research Projects

The Nature Awareness Study

Lead Researcher: 
Ted Ng, PhD
80% of COVID-19 survivor reported ≥1 lingering symptom beyond 4 weeks post-infection, characterizing a syndrome called the long-COVID. Although primarily a respiratory disease, long-COVID has multiple impacts on other bodily systems, including “brain fog”, i.e. cognitive impairment, and neuropsychiatric sequelae. Two biological contributors to long-COVID are elevated pro-inflammatory markers and dysregulated gut microbiota, which are also risk factor causal of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).

ACT Trial

Lead Researcher: 
Dr. Fang Yu
The ACT Trial is recruiting individuals 65 years and older with suspected or confirmed Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), to explore how exercise and cognitive activities impact the symptoms and progression of MCI over an 18-month period. Eligible participants will actively work with exercise and brain training specialists for 6 months. Fitness and mental abilities will be assessed 5 times over18 months; and brain function will be tested by Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) 4 times.

Finding Ease in Caregiving

Lead Researcher: 
Robert Kaplan
The Finding Ease in Caregiving Project is a free, tailored improvisation skills program for individuals who are caregivers experiencing stress & caring for adults with chronic conditions. Participants learn from the Primal Alexander™ improvisation strategy based in the Alexander Technique- a strategy that assists in developing self-efficacy to alter adverse behaviors and integrate mind-body awareness. Inclusion criteria for participants are: • Serve as a caregiver of an adult individual with a chronic condition for at least 6 months, • Provide 2 hours of caregiving per day, minimum

Arizona Dementia Capable System Enhancement

Lead Researcher: 
David W. Coon, PhD
Funded by the US Administration for Community Living, this project extends Arizona’s Dementia Capable System in Arizona by providing professional and community educational workshops, care consultation and case management, and evidence-based programs for three key groups of people living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) and their family caregivers: (1) people living alone with ADRD; (2) the Latino/Hispanic population; and, (3) people with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities who develop ADRD as they age.

Comparative Policy Analysis of Dementia Programs to Support People with Dementia and Co-existing Complex Needs and their Caregivers

Lead Researcher: 
Allie Peckham, PhD
Understanding how health care systems can support people with dementia and complex needs, and the unpaid caregivers who help them, is an important task for health researchers and health policymakers. In this research we compare programs to support caregivers and people living with dementia and complex needs in 5 jurisdictions: British Columbia, Ontario, Newfoundland & Labrador, New York State, and Vermont.

Parkinson’s Partner in Care (PPCP)

Lead Researcher: 
Holly Shill, MD; David Coon, PhD
This program is for People with Parkinson’s disease without memory problems and their caregivers. Currently focus groups are being conducted to help us understand the challenges faced by individuals who are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and their families as well as resources they have found valuable. This information will be used to implement a new intervention for people with Parkinson’s disease without memory problems and their caregivers.

Caregiver Conversations

Lead Researcher: 
David Coon, PhD
In this project we explore caregiver needs during isolating circumstances – such as pandemics, natural disasters, or other situations that restrict daily routines and access to services – through formative interviews and assessments. Participants will complete an initial screening and eligible individuals will then be invited to enroll and participate in an individual assessment, and/or a focus group/focused interview, to gather data that help us understand the experiences of caregivers during isolating circumstances.

Sun Devil Caregiving Academy (SDCA)

Lead Researcher: 
David Coon, PhD
Caregivers of older adults who are housebound due to physical limitations, working a full-time job, or who live in rural areas are often underserved and understudied groups impacted by caregiver burden and stress. This research study will conduct focus groups to examine the obstacles of these caregivers from taking part in the traditional skill-building caregiver programs. The data gathered will be compiled to adapt and deliver existing skill-building caregiver programs through innovative methods.

A Mixed Methods Investigation of Dementia-Related Anxiety

Lead Researcher: 
Molly Maxfield, PhD
Public awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD) has grown through media coverage, information campaigns, and personal experience with individuals diagnosed with ADRD. For some individuals, the thought of possibly developing ADRD generates dementia-related anxiety. We interviewed cognitively healthy middle-aged and older adults about their thoughts and feelings about dementia and dementia-related anxiety. Data analysis is in progress, and initial themes include worry about being unable to care for one’s self and fear of becoming a burden on others.

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