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Treating today's dementia sufferers


There is a big push for new treatments and new financing for future facilities to treat the oncoming wave of people dementia as our global population ages. While many researchers work on better diagnosis, prevention, and treatment for those future patients, other researchers are trying to help the people with advanced dementia today for whom any cure would be too late.

Professor Helen Nicholson is working on a pioneering project which enables advanced dementia sufferers to take part in art, drama and dance. Her program is called Hearts and Minds and is a unique reminiscence project run by Age Exchange, specifically for people with Alzheimer’s but also includes people with other mental illness like schizophrenia and depression.

Local artists conduct one-on-one art activities with dementia sufferers. The program taps into the long term memory which remains active in the Alzheimer patient. Professor Nicholsen is currently evaluating the progress made by the program in the last three years to see if it has any therapeutic effect which would warrant rolling the program out to other care providers in the UK. Part of her assessment includes talking to the care staff, the families and the patients themselves about the program and any impact it may be having on health and well being.

“We know that historically, dementia sufferers have been largely ignored during the latter stages of their illnesses. We hope the Hearts and Minds project will demonstrate that this need not be the case and care staff can be trained to offer exciting interactive activities through performing art.”

In England, there are currently 750,000 people with dementia. Projections indicate that number will double in the next 30 years.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Hearts and Minds

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