Skip to Main Content

Dementia: stimulating activities, independent life, etc.

I would like to start a conversation about dementia (memory loss) in older people. Around one million of people live with dementia in the UK which costs £26 billion per year to manage. Depending on a cause, dementia can progress slowly or rapidly, ultimately leading to the complete loss of memory and congnitive abilities. Carers for people with dementia identified several problems the patients are facing, two of which are:

  • Providing appropriate and stimulating recreational activities for people with dementia (46% of responders)
  • Technologies that assist a person with dementia to live independently (32% of responders)

 Activities which stimulate thinking, creativity and memory help to delay cognitive decline of the patients: music events, painting, crafting, etc. However, nursing homes and carers struggle to provide sufficient mental stimulus e.g. to help a person to participate in daily living to a greater degree. Can you think of anything what can provide mental stimulation to people with dementia every day without requiring constant presence of a carer/nursing home personnel? 

Labelling, colour coding, signposting items, assistive technology, and other technological advances helped to assist people with dementia to live as independently as possible, and help their carers to have more rest. What other inventions and technologies could help both carers and the patients? I know that some would love to use electronic tagging system to trace their wandering relatives with dementia. 

Please share any issues relevant to this topic and ideas how to sort them. 

 

Information is obtained from Alzheimer's Research UK and Alzheimer's society

You will need to login to post a comment

Catalina Romila 11 months ago

Very interesting topic, and I'm glad this was posted on here. Due to the expected rise in the elderly population dementia is deemed as becoming the 'pandemic of old age'. Cognitive decline which includes memory loss and forgetfulness are the major aspects of this devastating disease.

What I'd like to point out with this is that cognitive tests and activities is not only relevant to dementia patients but to everybody. As the more engaged you keep your brain the better and the more plastic it becomes. In many ways this is beneficial and arguably preventative against similar types of brain diseases associated with old age such as Parkinson.

It would be nice to see how other people view this.

Reply 0

Miroslava Katsur 11 months ago

Hello @Catalina Romila! I am glad that you are a person who studies neurodegeneration and you can contribute to this topic :) Yes, you are correct - cognitive-stimulating activities are needed for all of us, and this may delay the memory and cognitive decline (maybe it can delay these problems enough so that the person never experiences them in their life!). Are you aware of which activities and to what extent can delay cognitive/memory decline? How often should they be engaged with?

Reply 0

Esther Hui 11 months ago

Thanks so much for sharing! I am currently developing a virtual version of Individual Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (iCST). This intervention will be delivered by psychologists (not carers). Hopefully, it can help!

For more information on Virtual Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (vCST): https://www.ucl.ac.uk/pals/research/clinical-...al-cognitive-32

Reply 0

Miroslava Katsur 11 months ago

Hi Esther! It is fantastic that you develop something for people with advanced Alzheimer's disease! If you don't mind, I'd like to ask you a few questions. What does your Cognitive Stimulation Therapy involve? Do you think it is something which can benefit to older people without Alzheimer's? What is your opinion about this therapy so far - how promising it is?

Users tagged:

Reply 0

Esther Hui 11 months ago

Thanks for your questions! Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) is an established, evidence-based treatment for people with mild to moderate dementia. It consists of a series of themed and structured activities. There are 14 sessions in total, offered twice weekly over a 7-week period. Each session is 45 minutes. While there are many non-pharmacological treatments out there, CST is the only one recommended by the UK government (NICE guidelines) for people with mild to moderate as it improves their cognition and quality of life. I think it is quite promising, since there is a lot of research that backs it up. Currently, it's offered in over 85% of NHS memory facilities and 33 countries worldwide.

I am not entirely sure if CST works for people without dementia, but past studies have improved the carer's quality of life. Please let me know if you have any more questions!

Users tagged:

Reply 0

Miroslava Katsur 11 months ago

To be honest, I never heard that there's anything offered to Alzheimer's patients, so it is good to learn about CST. I wonder why it is only 7 week period. Do you think it would be beneficial to have CST available as videos online? What kind of exercises does the standard CST involves? Also, how does it improves the carer's quality of life? Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

Users tagged:

Reply 0

Esther Hui 11 months ago

Ahh I see! The dosage of 45 minutes, twice weekly for 7 weeks was determined from previous clinical trials. Previous Randomized Controlled Trials (RCT) suggest that this dosage is enough to have a significant effect on cognition for people with mild to moderate dementia. The effect compares favorably with antidementia drugs. Other trials with longer periods (e.g., 24 weeks) also had a significant effect on cognition. I personally don't think online videos will be stimulating enough.

Here's more information on what CST sessions involve: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/pals/research/clinical-...al-cognitive-34

Users tagged:

Reply 1

Esther Hui 11 months ago

Status label added: Useful insight

Reply 0

Nattawan Utoomprurkporn 11 months ago

I totally agree. My research is mainly in hearing stimulation to improve cognition. We have various methods to boost the cognition via interactive app etc.

Still, personally, I believe the human connection and interaction serves as the best and simple method for cognitive stimulation. I am a big fan of family and friends relationship and regular communication to boost the older adult cognition. :)

Reply 0

Miroslava Katsur 11 months ago

Hi Nattawan! Could you please tell us a bit more about your research? Also, which methods can boost the cognition and to what extent? How often/how long should they be applied?

Reply 0

Nattawan Utoomprurkporn 11 months ago

My research mainly use hearing stimulation technology. Hearing loss is the highest modifiable risk factor for developing dementia (PAF8-9%).
Essentially, if the person have hearing impairment, it is prefered to have the hearing amplification on during all waking hours. However, research showed that even with 4-6 hours per day, the benefit of hearing amplification can start to kick in via outcomes like improve mood etc.

Reply 0

Miroslava Katsur 11 months ago

That's incredible! So, hearing problems can be an outcome of progressing Alzheimer's, and preservation of hearing can boost cognition (and potentially memory?). Do 8-9% of people with this disease get complete hearing loss or it's variable?

Reply 0

Nattawan Utoomprurkporn 11 months ago

Hearing loss is very common in older adults. One in three of older adults age >65 is suffering from hearing loss. These people are all at higher risk of developing dementia.

If you are interested, here is my recent interview with UCL faculty of brain science about our hypothesis :)

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/brain-sciences/news/202...e-dementia-risk

Reply 0

Miroslava Katsur 11 months ago

Thanks for sharing! It makes sense, actually, that if there's less hearing, there's less cognitive stimulation which can contribute to the progression of Alzheimer's. I wonder whether there's a treshold of cognitive stimulation which, if not surpassed, will eventually lead to Alzheimer's disease... It is something I'll ponder about for a while. I wish you success in your project - we need some help for people with Alzheimer's asap, because there's nothing available on the market currently, if I am correct.

Reply 1

Nattawan Utoomprurkporn 11 months ago

The threshold for the hearing loss that need stimulation to prevent dementia is quit tricky. From logistic regression, the data showed that there is no "safe hearing loss level" so even a tiny/trivial hearing impairment can cause harm. I am going to write this in detail in another post about hearing loss then :)

Reply 1

Miroslava Katsur 11 months ago

I see! Thank you for you time, Nattawan!

Reply 0

Gordon Anderson 11 months ago

Hi Miroslava

We have been working on the impact of music on those living with dementia, particularly as it can significantly reduce agitation at the point-of-care, which accounts for 12% of the overall cost of dementia care in the UK. We have developed a platform, Memory Tracks, and launched it as a Beta on Android and iOS.

We recently added Sing-along to the functionality of the app, as this is a popular activity in care, and in local support groups. It is critical to maintain connections, and activities to alleviate the loneliness and isolation those living with dementia can feel, so I would be happy to contribute to the discussion, if I can be of help.

I have attached the research we carried out and published last year in the Journal of Healthcare Engineering.

Gordon

Reply 2

Miroslava Katsur 10 months ago

Hello Gordon! And thank you for sharing here this innovative idea! I would like to ask if people with dementia can use this platform themselves when they want to sing, or are you planning to do so? Also, do you want to trial Sing-along for people who live in their homes alone, with family and/or carer? I think it can work in this environment too - I saw some heartwarming videos of older people remembering their past after hearing some songs. I bet relatives would be happy to see that.

Users tagged:

Reply 0

Georgie Cade 9 months ago

Status label removed: Useful insight

Reply 0