Acceptance and commitment therapy with older adults and psychosocial adjustment to mild cognitive impairment
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Purpose: The systematic review summarised the research investigating Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) with older adults. The empirical study explored psychosocial adjustment patterns to a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment, a condition characterised by memory or thinking problems. Method: The review included 14 studies identified through database searches using predefined eligibility criteria. The empirical study employed a cross-sectional design. Thirty-five participants completed a short cognitive assessment and a series of questionnaires measuring perceptions of MCI, cognitive fusion (i.e. how caught up someone is with their thoughts), anxiety, depression and quality of life. Results: The review found initial evidence to suggest that ACT is an acceptable and effective intervention for reducing distress in older adults. The empirical study found that threatening perceptions of MCI were more strongly related to psychosocial adjustment outcomes than objective level of cognitive impairment. The study also found evidence to suggest that cognitive fusion is associated with adjustment outcomes in an MCI population. Conclusions: The systematic review highlights the limited, but promising evidence-base for the application of ACT with older adults. The review emphasises the need for further research with improved methodological rigor. Findings from the empirical study need to be replicated with a larger sample, however the results indicate that psychological interventions such like ACT could have utility for MCI patients with adjustment difficulties.