Guardian Dementia

This page shows the latest items from the Guardian Dementia newsfeed.

Covid-19 causing 10,000 dementia deaths beyond infections, research says

Charities warn that with reduced medical care and family visits sufferers are ‘just switching off’

There were almost 10,000 unexplained extra deaths among people with dementia in April, according to official figures that have prompted alarm about the severe impact of social isolation on people with the condition.

The data, from the Office for National Statistics, reveals that, beyond deaths directly linked to Covid-19, there were 83% more deaths from dementia than usual in April, with charities warning that a reduction in essential medical care and family visits were taking a devastating toll.

Related: How did we end up turning our care homes into jails of enforced loneliness?

Related: Isolated UK care home residents ‘fading away’, say staff and families

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4 June 2020, 11:01 pm

'A lot of benign neglect’: how Ghana’s social changes are isolating older people

The modernising economy is changing family structures – but can ‘western’ residential homes be accepted culturally?

After breakfast on a Friday morning, a small group of elderly people are engaging in gentle exercises – walking to one end of a walled compound and back. Some of them need the assistance of nurses or walkers, or both, to complete the journey.

“Usually, we do this a couple of times but it is a little bit cold today so we are going just once,” says Henry Ofori Mensah, administrator at Comfort For The Aged, a residential care home in Kasoa, a dormitory town west of Accra, Ghana’s capital.

At the turn of the century, a facility like this would have been hard to imagine in Ghana.

Related: ‘All we can offer is the chain’: the scandal of Ghana’s shackled sick

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26 May 2020, 9:15 am

Research reveals gene role in both dementia and severe Covid-19

Having two copies of e4 variant of ApoE gene linked to double risk of severe Covid-19, study suggests

People with a genetic mutation that increases the risk of dementia also have a greater chance of having severe Covid-19, researchers have revealed.

The study is the latest to suggest genetics may play a role in why some people are more vulnerable to the coronavirus than others, and could help explain why people with dementia have been hard hit: dementia is one of the most common underlying health conditions among those who have died from Covid-19 in England and Wales.

Related: Study of twins reveals genetic effect on Covid-19 symptoms

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26 May 2020, 4:00 am

Quarter of Covid-19 deaths in English hospitals were of diabetics

NHS’s first breakdown of underlying health conditions also finds 18% had dementia

One in four people who have died in hospital with Covid-19 also had diabetes, the NHS’s first breakdown of underlying health conditions among the fatalities shows.

Of the 22,332 people who died in hospital in England between 31 March and 12 May, 5,873 (26%) suffered from either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, NHS England figures reveal.

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14 May 2020, 6:22 pm

Isolated UK care home residents 'fading away', say staff and families

Many confined to their rooms and forbidden visits in effort to contain coronavirus outbreak

Care home residents confined to their rooms and forbidden visits from loved ones are giving up on life and “fading away”, say staff and families.

Most care homes across the UK have been in lockdown since early March, with residents isolated in their bedrooms behind closed doors. Many are denied visits from their families, even to see them through their windows.

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14 May 2020, 4:48 pm

How did we end up turning our care homes into jails of enforced loneliness?

The rights of the most vulnerable, including those with dementia, should not be violated

Last week, driving to the shops, I passed a care home and saw a figure standing at an upstairs window: an old woman looking out at a world she could not enter. She looked like a prisoner. And in a way, that’s probably what she was.

Let’s talk about old people. Let’s talk about people in care homes, about people living with dementia and dying with dementia, out of sight and out of mind, and what the lockdown means for them. Let’s talk about what we are not talking about enough, not thinking about enough, not caring about enough.

Time changes the meaning of isolation for someone who is old and vulnerable and may not have much time left

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10 May 2020, 7:30 am

'We did what we set out to achieve': the staff who moved into care homes

At Sheffield’s Bridgedale House there have been no Covid-19 cases, but it means some workers have not seen their families for weeks

Care assistants who moved in to a home to shield its vulnerable residents have managed to prevent any deaths or infections from Covid-19.

Five weeks ago Kirsty Scott left behind her two young children and moved into Bridgedale House care home in Sheffield, but she’s missing her family more than ever.

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28 April 2020, 12:54 pm

Dutch court approves euthanasia in cases of advanced dementia

Ruling means doctors cannot be prosecuted even if patient no longer says they want to die

Doctors in the Netherlands are able to carry out euthanasia on patients with severe dementia without fear of prosecution even if the patient no longer expresses an explicit wish to die, the country’s highest court has ruled.

The supreme court’s decision followed a landmark case last year in which a doctor was acquitted of wrongdoing for euthanising a woman in 2016 with severe Alzheimer’s who had requested the procedure before her condition deteriorated.

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21 April 2020, 3:23 pm

Pride in the work of Alzheimer’s Society | Letters

Criticisms of the work and culture of the charity, Alzheimer’s Society, are rejected by its director of people and organisational development, Corinne Mills

We would like to challenge misleading claims in letters from Dr Alan Fowler and Prof David Lewis (24 February). In 2019, we spent £49.3m, not £8.6m as Dr Fowler claimed, on direct support. In addition to those services mentioned by Dr Fowler, this includes dementia advisers and support as well as our Dementia Connect service, helpline, dementia guides and online forum, Talking Point, which people with dementia and their carers tell us make a huge difference to their lives.

The disestablishment of the branch network in 2010 was part of a wider change programme to enable us to extend and grow our reach with a more consistent offer of support for people affected by dementia. We are now reaching thousands more people and providing direct support for 100,000 of those affected by the condition. By the end of 2022 this will increase to around 300,000.

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27 February 2020, 6:05 pm

NDA payoffs and the Alzheimer’s Society | Letters

Readers respond to allegations about the management culture within the Alzheimer’s Society

I work for the Alzheimer’s Society from one of its regional offices and am one of the many proud to do so. I’ve never met Jeremy Hughes, and started after the other staff members you mention left, but in my region I’ve only experienced a positive work environment with passionate staff and volunteers who do their very best for people living with dementia. I was shocked to read your article and sincerely hope the amount quoted isn’t true (Report, 22 February). However, the letters you published (25 February), while interesting, were very one-sided.

The figures mentioned by Dr Alan Fowler are misleading. While the society spent £8.6m on direct care in 2019, it spent a further £80m on other vital services such as research both to find a cure and on how best to improve the lives of people with dementia now, providing vital literature, keeping a 24/7 online help forum open and operating a helpline which takes thousands of calls a year. In the year these figures are from, 96% of people living with dementia agreed our services met their needs.

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26 February 2020, 5:46 pm

Researchers find a western-style diet can impair brain function

After a week on a high saturated fat, high added sugar diet, volunteers scored worse on memory tests

Consuming a western diet for as little as one week can subtly impair brain function and encourage slim and otherwise healthy young people to overeat, scientists claim.

Researchers found that after seven days on a high saturated fat, high added sugar diet, volunteers in their 20s scored worse on memory tests and found junk food more desirable immediately after they had finished a meal.

The western-style diet is characterised by the consumption of highly processed and refined foods, with high contents of sugars, salt, and fat and protein from red meat. Burgers, fast food, processed meat and ready meals are typical examples.

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19 February 2020, 12:01 am

Terry Jones – a man who grasped the meaning of life

He was not the most high-profile of the Pythons, but he was the funniest, the most modest and the most essential

This is the story of the most extraordinary child who ever stuck his tongue out at the prime minister.

So begins Terry Jones’s favourite of his own children’s books. It goes on, “His name was Nicobobinus”, but it could have been Terry himself. And the only question should be: how might he himself like to be remembered?

I’ve got dementia, you know. My frontal brain lobe has absconded

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26 January 2020, 8:26 am

Do you know someone with dementia admitted to hospital as an emergency?

If a relative, friend or someone you care for with dementia was admitted to hospital, we want to hear what happened. Share your experiences

Do you know anyone with dementia who has been admitted to hospital as an emergency? If so, we’d like to hear from you. We’d also like to hear more about this issue from NHS staff.

Figures from NHS data showed that hospitals in England recorded more than 379,000 admissions of people with the condition during 2017/18. That was 100,000 more than the number of such patients admitted in 2012/13.

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22 January 2020, 4:29 pm

'Her whole demeanour changed': why lifelike dolls are being used in dementia care

Doll therapy, using toys that appear to breathe and have a heartbeat, is being introduced in care homes and day centres

Brenda Madden, 94, sits in an armchair in a care home in Abertillery in south Wales, holding a baby doll that appears to breathe and have a heartbeat. She has advanced dementia and can no longer speak, but looks peaceful as she cradles the doll and bends down to kiss it as if it were one of her own children.

“At first it was a bit of a shock,” says her daughter, Sandra. “It was a bit upsetting because she’s gone back in time to when we were kids.” Her brother Barry agrees but can now see the benefits of doll therapy for his mother. “She’s always loved kids. She’s got four children, 11 grandchildren and four or five great-grandchildren. We can see how much she loves [the doll] and we’ve accepted it.”

Related: Pioneering programme reduces need for dementia medication

Related: Sign up for Society Weekly: our newsletter for public service professionals

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22 January 2020, 8:51 am

Emergency dementia admissions to hospitals up 35% in five years

NHS data for England shows reality of social care system, says Alzheimer’s Society

The number of people with dementia being admitted to hospital as a medical emergency has risen by more than a third in five years, figures have shown, with a lack of social care blamed for the increase.

NHS data showed that hospitals in England recorded more than 379,000 admissions of people with the condition during 2017/18. That was 100,000 more than the number of such patients admitted in 2012/13 – a 35% jump in five years.

Related: The five: ways to slow the onset of Alzheimer’s

Related: Does your loved one have dementia? Here are five books that can help

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22 January 2020, 12:01 am

From depression to dementia, inflammation is medicine’s new frontier | Edward Bullmore

The barrier between mind and body appears to be crumbling. Clinical practice and public perception need to catch up

Unlikely as it may seem, #inflammation has become a hashtag. It seems to be everywhere suddenly, up to all sorts of tricks. Rather than simply being on our side, fighting infections and healing wounds, it turns out to have a dark side as well: the role it plays in causing us harm.

It’s now clear that inflammation is part of the problem in many, if not all, diseases of the body. And targeting immune or inflammatory causes of disease has led to a series of breakthroughs, from new treatments for rheumatoid arthritis and other auto-immune diseases in the 1990s, through to the advent of immunotherapy for some cancers in the 2010s. Even more pervasively, low-grade inflammation, detectable only by blood tests, is increasingly considered to be part of the reason why common life experiences such as poverty, stress, obesity or ageing are bad for public health.

Related: Joining a choir helped me combat anxiety and find a meditative state of pure joy

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19 January 2020, 3:51 pm

Mixed reception for move to ban children heading footballs

Campaigners welcome ‘positive step’, but some working in children’s football question how enforceable it would be

Peter Monk gave a wry response when asked if he thought children should be allowed to head a football from a young age.

“To be honest, with the younger ones, if a goalkeeper kicks high, very rarely will you get them heading the ball anyway,” said the chair of the Panshanger football club in Hertfordshire. “It comes out the sky and they act like it’s a UFO and just let it bounce.”

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16 January 2020, 7:20 pm

Children in Scotland could be banned from heading footballs over dementia link

  • Scottish Football Association finalising proposals
  • Children under 12 could be banned from heading in training
  • Share your experiences

A move towards banning children from heading balls in training in Scotland because of the links between football and dementia has been welcomed as a “positive step” by the campaigner Dawn Astle, who has urged other governing bodies follow its lead.

The Scottish Football Association is finalising its plans but it is understood that it wants to “lead the way” on the issue. The BBC says that a ban on children under the age of 12 from heading could be introduced within weeks.

Related: Can football headers lead to dementia? The evidence is growing

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16 January 2020, 9:50 am

Can Thailand provide better dementia care than the UK? | Letters

Readers respond to news that British families are sending elderly relatives with dementia overseas to Thailand in a small but growing trend

In your report (Families sending relatives with dementia to Thailand for care, 13 January), the statement that “local authority residential care costs up to £700 per week with private care costing around £1,000” is misleading. It implies that local authorities run their own care homes, when in fact few do, since most councils closed down their care homes or transferred them to the profit-driven private sector a decade or two ago.

Now, they pay fees to private care homes for people living in their areas who qualify under the means test (having assets of less than £23,250). At the same time those same private care homes charge customers with assets above the £23,250 threshold about £1,000 a week – who thus, in effect, subsidise councils where the latter have managed to negotiate a lower rate.

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14 January 2020, 5:39 pm

'I still dream of my husband': life with dementia in Japan – photo essay

As stigma around the country’s health crisis starts to fade, some care facilities are at the forefront of devising ways to tackle the challenges of a super-ageing society

  • All photographs by Robin Hammond

For the millions of Japanese people living with dementia, diagnosis is often the beginning of a journey into a life of seclusion.

When dementia is covered by the media, it is in the form of news about experimental therapies, or reports on the latest police campaign to encourage older people to surrender their driving licences.

The voices of people living with the condition – in ever rising numbers among an ageing population – are often missing from the public debate.

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14 January 2020, 7:00 am