CERDAR Projects

Currently, there are five CERDAR research projects in development, each involving different groups of investigators.

Currently, there are five CERDAR research projects in development, each involving different groups of investigators.

Project 1

Socio-Cultural Factors in Rural ADRD Care Experiences

The aim of this research project is to understand rural peoples’ knowledge of, and experience with, dementia and the social, cultural, and structural barriers that prevent access to dementia care and services. Living in a rural area plays an important role in how people with dementia are cared for and what their experiences are like. Learning more about this will help people with dementia, their caregivers, and their healthcare providers. We will be interviewing 100 rural residents, including healthy older adults, physicians and other health care providers, and formal and informal caregivers to people with dementia (PWD). We are interested in peoples’ views of healthy cognitive aging, as well as dementia, and the lived experience of caregivers and PWD.  Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be conducting these interviews via telephone or ZOOM.  Once a COVID vaccine is developed and widely available, community-based researchers will also conduct in-person interviews with people with dementia.

CERDAR Project 2

Project 2

Minnesota Rehabilitation Intervention for Dementia Prevention with Exercise (MN-RIDE)

Cardiovascular (heart) disease increases the risk for dementia-related illness.  CERDAR researchers are interested in working with older adults living in rural Minnesota who might be at risk for developing dementia, and who are willing to participate in a community-based exercise and virtual reality cognitive training program. Participants will be screened to make sure exercise is safe for them.  As part of this project, participants will have a stationary bike delivered to their home and will be supported and monitored remotely during 12 weeks of exercise.  They will also have their fitness and memory assessed at two different times.  The long-term objective of this project is to develop a rural dementia prevention program to reduce cardiovascular risk factors associated with the development of dementia-related illness.  

Project 3

Optimization of a Life-Space Performance Metric for Monitoring and Early Detection of Alzheimer’s disease and Related Dementias in Rural and Indigenous Communities

The aim of this research project is to understand how people living and aging in rural and Indigenous communities use their environment, or life-space, and how this impacts care for people living with dementia. The term life-space has been used to describe the physical and social environment of where a person lives and does day to day activities (Taylor, Buchan, & Van Der Veer, 2019; Tung et al., 2014) . Life-space has been shown to be related to cognitive health, and by measuring life-space, we can measure cognitive decline. Traditionally, life-space has been measured using the gold standard Alabama daily Life-space questionnaire (LSQ) and monthly Life-space Assessment (LSA), and these measures have been shown to have a strong predictive validity and clinical utility specific to aging and cognitive decline (Poranen-Clark et al., 2018). However, life-space research has been overwhelmingly urban in focus, with little to no attention paid to the nature of rural life-space and its relation to aging or cognitive decline. Likewise, the Life-Space questionnaire and assessment are also urban in orientation. Therefore, we are conducting a one-month pilot study using a modified, rural version, of the daily LSQ and monthly LSA with 10 rural and 10 Indigenous adults who provide care for a family member or loved one with dementia. Data from this project will be used to obtain a life-space metric that can ultimately monitor and detect Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) in rural and Indigenous communities, and aid with new technology development.



  1. Taylor JK, Buchan IE and van der Veer SN. Assessing life-space mobility for a more holistic view on wellbeing in geriatric research and clinical practice. Aging Clin Exp Res 2019; 31: 439-445. 2018/08/06. DOI: 10.1007/s40520-018-0999-5.
  2. Tung JY, Rose RV, Gammada E, et al. Measuring life space in older adults with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease using mobile phone GPS. Gerontology 2014; 60: 154-162. 2013/12/21. DOI: 10.1159/000355669.
  3. Poranen-Clark T, von Bonsdorff MB, Rantakokko M, et al. Executive function and life-space mobility in old age. Aging Clin Exp Res 2018; 30: 145-151. 2017/04/23. DOI: 10.1007/s40520-017-0762-3.


CERDAR Project 4

Project 4

Coming Soon

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CERDAR Project 5

Project 5 Lay the groundwork for rural and Indigenous participation in clinical trials associated with Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers (ADRCs)

ADRCs are research centers devoted to clinical and biomedical research on Alzheimer’s and related dementias.  One of these, exists, for example, at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, and another at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. These centers rarely include rural or Indigenous patients in their clinical trials, which require patients to undergo a variety of biomedical and genetic tests. Living in a rural area appears to be a risk factor for dementia, but there is little emphasis placed on ensuring rural participants are included in ADRC clinical research. We are interested in learning about what factors would prevent or help attract more rural and Indigenous people to participate in ADRD research. We believe that geographic distance, costs of travel, and other factors act as barriers to rural patients’ participation in clinical trials. We will conduct key informant and focus group research to find out more about rural and Indigenous attitudes toward participating in ADRD clinical trials.