Recreation-Based Intervention: A Non-Pharmacological Approach to Challenging Behavior in Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias (LC)

November 18, 2017


9 a.m. - 1 p.m.


Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service
Lincoln Center Campus
113 West 60th Street
Room 713 (7th Floor)
New York, NY 10023


This educational session will provide those working with clients living with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders (ADRD) with an understanding of opportunities for the treatment of symptoms based in recreation therapy.  Participants will learn recreation therapy approaches to promote hope, ability, and expression, and decrease clinical symptoms of dementia within the framework of the leisure ability model.

  • Participants will learn three types of memory which decline less rapidly in those with Alzheimer's.
  • Participants will be able to identify common causes of “challenging behaviors” including apathy, shadowing, and repetitive question
  • Participants will learn the use of non-pharmacological interventions for individual’s “challenging behavior” including shadowing, repetitive behaviors, and apathy.
  • Participants will understand learned helplessness as it relates to clients living with Alzheimer’s and Dementia (Seligman).
  • Participants will learn and practice four types of non-verbal communication which can be used to develop a therapeutic relationship with clients with ADRD.
  • Participants will understand the leisure ability model as it relates to mastery, self-determination, intrinsic motivation, internal locus of control and causal attribution, choice, and flow (Stumbo & Peterson).
  • Participants will learn and practice three recreation therapy approaches for selection and facilitation of programs and interventions supported by the leisure ability model (Reading, Social Roles, and Independent Programming)
  • Participants will learn and practice four Montessori-based techniques for modification of programs and interventions for clients with ADRD (Camp) (Memory Aides, Breaking Down the Task, Moving from the Simple to Complex)


Nettie Harper was unexpectedly inspired to work with elders while rounding out an application to law school with volunteer work. The magical moment she walked through the doors of an adult day program and met the wonderful people on the other side changed her life forever. Nettie developed a passion for working with elders with memory impairments over the next six months. She was inspired to swap her future in law for a future in eldercare, becoming a Recreation Therapist so she would have the honor of both working with individuals with memory issues and learning from their wisdom.  Nettie's career focus has been to highlight elders' strengths and self-worth through well-designed programming.

Nettie holds both a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a Masters of Science in Therapeutic Recreation from the University of Florida. Nettie is a Certified Dementia Care Partner through the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.  Nettie is also a Certified Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Care Trainer through the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners.  For over 20 years, she has been a leader in the fields of memory care and recreation therapy, securing New York State grants to improve the quality of dementia care services in skilled nursing facilities, developing globally-implemented training programs, and holding the positions of Vice President of Operations, Director of Recreation, Alzheimer's Unit Director and Dementia Specialist for some of the most well-regarded memory care programs in Florida and New York.  Nettie has worked in a variety of settings including Home Care, Skilled Nursing Homes, Adult Day Cares and Assisted Living Residences. Currently, Nettie is working with Independence Care System, a managed long term care (MLTC), to develop their dementia care program to ensure their members have the quality of care they deserve.  Her goal is to continue to offer programming to elders with memory impairments and encourage them to live a full life within their community.

Kelly Gilligan has had the privilege of being Inspired by elders from a very young age.  Her education began with the best instructors -- two generations of live-in grand and great-grandparents who sparked her passion for the field of Aging! Kelly has her degree in English and Psychology from Fordham University and is certified as a Dementia Practitioner through the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners and as a Validation Worker through the Validation Therapy Institute. Over the past ten years, she has held the roles of Director of Activities, Director of Memory Care, Regional Resident Life Trainer, Regional Memory Care Trainer, Quality Assurance Advisor, and most recently as Executive Director of a Residential Treatment Center and Company Trainer for an avant-garde, research-based memory care organization.  In each of these roles, Kelly has honed a holistic approach to Memory Care, and incorporated the interactive, experiential education techniques that make Inspired Memory Care’s courses unique.  As a certified Validation Worker, Kelly has further integrated Validation techniques into Inspired’s approach to communication.  Her goal is to educate and empower care-partners to embrace the wisdom and talents our elders bring to our society.

Continuing Education Hours

Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service is a provider of social work continuing education hours, as approved by the New York State Education Department Board for Social Work.

Completion of this class will result in the receipt of four (4) continuing education hours. CEHs are not awarded for partial completion of the class.

Class Fee

Our regular fees are listed below:

  • Fordham GSS Alumni: $120
  • Fordham GSS Students: $70
  • Fordham Current Field Instructors: $70
  • Other Students: $80
  • All Others: $140

Refunds and Cancellations

In the event that the class is cancelled, a full refund will be given.

Contact Us

Keila Zapata-Kelly, MSW, CASAC-T
Administrator of Continuing Education