Marie Savundranayagam, PhD

Associate Professor

Room 347, HSB
519 661-2111 x82215
Google Scholar

Caregiving Research Laboratory


  • MA, PhD (University of Kansas)
  • B.Arts.Sc. Combined Honours (McMaster University)

Graduate Program Supervision

  • Health and Rehabilitation Sciences MSc | PhD

Research In Profile

Professor Marie Savundranayagam conducts research that has an impact on how we care for older adults with dementia and their caregivers, both family and formal caregivers. Within family caregiving, her research is on enhancing our understanding of the contributors of stress and depression among family caregivers, and to use that knowledge to develop, implement, and assess interventions that enrich their caregiving experiences.

Within formal caregiving, professor Savundranayagam’s research aims to understand the factors that lead to communication breakdown between formal caregivers and persons with dementia, and to use that knowledge to equip formal caregivers with the necessary skills to be person-centered in their care. Recently, she created Be EPIC, a person-centered communication training program for personal support workers of clients with dementia.

Featured Publications and Projects

Chapters and Reports

  • Savundranayagam, M.Y. & Kamalraj, P. (2020). Person-centered communication among formal caregivers of persons with dementia. In Colin R. Martin & Victor R. Preedy (Eds.), Diagnosis and Management in Dementia (pp. 843–856). London, U.K.: Academic Press. 
  • Roberts, A., Savundranayagam, M. Y., Orange, J. B. (2021). Dementia of the Alzheimer type. In L. Cummings (Ed.), Pragmatic Language Disorders: Complex and Underserved Populations. New York: Springer.
  • Iroanyah, N., Savundranayagam, M.Y., Mundadan, R., & Sivananthan, S., (2021). Equity, diversity, and inclusion in dementia diagnosis: A Canadian perspective (pp. 235-237). World Alzheimer Report 2021, Alzheimer’s Disease International.

Articles in Peer-Reviewed Journals

  • Breen, R., Savundranayagam, M. Y., Orange, JB, & Kothari, A. (2022). Perceptions of quality dementia home care by personal support workers in Ontario, Canada. Health & Social Care in the Community, 30(5), e2497-e2506. 
  • Kamalraj, P., Savundranayagam, M. Y., Orange, JB, & Kloseck, M. (2021). Communication in home care: Understanding the lived experiences of formal caregivers in communicating with persons living with dementia in their homes. International Journal of Older People Nursing, 00, e12401.
  • Savundranayagam, M. Y., Docherty-Skippen, S. M., & Basque, S. (2021). Qualitative insights into the working conditions of personal support workers in long-term care in the context of a person-centered communication training intervention. Research in Gerontological Nursing, 14(5):245-253. Doi:10.3928/19404921-20210708-01
  • Guthrie DM, Williams N, Campos J, Mick P, Orange JB, Pichora-Fuller MK, Savundranayagam MY, Wittich W, Phillips NA. (2021). A newly identified impairment in both vision and hearing increases the risk of deterioration in both communication and cognitive performance. Canadian Journal on Aging. 41(3), 363–376.
  • Savundranayagam, M.Y., Basque, S. R., & Johnson, K. (2020). Feasibility of Be EPIC: A dementia-focused person-centered communication intervention for home care workers. Clinical Gerontologist, 43(2): 181-192. DOI: 10.1080/07317115.2019.1694116
  • Williams, N., Phillips, NA., Wittich, W., Campos, J., Mick, P, Orange, JB., Pichora-Fuller, MK., Savundranayagam, M. Y., Guthrie, DM. (2020). Hearing and cognitive impairments increase the risk of long-term care admissions. Innovation in Aging, 4(2): igz053. doi: 10.1093/geroni/igz053
  • Garcia Diaz, L., Savundranayagam, M. Y., Kloseck, M., & Fitzsimmons, D. (2019). The role of cultural and family values on social connectedness among ethnic minority elders. Clinical Gerontologist, 42(1), 114-126.


  • Savundranayagam, M. Y. (2022, December 14). Evidence-based communication strategies that support person-centered dementia care. BrainXChange national webinar.

Visit Google Scholar for a comprehensive list of publications.

Current Grants and Research Projects

  • Be EPIC: Person-Centered Communication with Home Care Clients with Dementia (Funded by Centre for Aging & Brain Health Innovation; Amount - $199,657)
  • Dementia Training for Mid-Career Workers (Funded by Future Skills Centre: Amount - $418,717)

Featured Graduate Student Projects

Visit Scholarship@Western for a list of completed student theses and dissertations in the repository.

Graduate Student Opportunities

Contact professor Savundranayagam directly at for information.

Additional Information

Academic Appointments and Research Affiliations

Media Highlights


  • Fellow, Gerontological Society of America
  • Faculty of Health Sciences: Recognition of Excellence in Teaching (2012, 2013)
  • Age Plus Prize: Canadian Institutes of Health Research – Institute of Aging (2005)

Professional Activities

  • Associate Editor, The Clinical Gerontologist
  • Editorial Board, Social Work in Health Care
  • Editorial Board, Educational Gerontology