Guardian Dementia

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

As with Brexit, so with John and Vicky, bent on leaving their community | Stewart Dakers

After years in their elderly person’s unit, this stubborn, proud pair have decided to cut themselves off. Sound familiar?

What a mess, and so unnecessary.” We’re back in the old routine, with the Christmas holiday long gone, and the talk at our cafe and community centre has been dominated by the parallels between Brexit and ageing: after living in the EPU for years, Vicky and John Bull have decided to leave.

In truth, they have never really been part of the crowd at the elderly person’s unit. I only know them by hearsay but with us lot, there’s always been plenty of that. Apparently they never mixed, but only took part in events and special occasions, and then only as co-ordinators, organisers. “Don’t like mucking in … bit insular”, was one verdict.

Darwinian to the core, John didn’t do deals, seeing collaboration with the collective as a sign of individual inadequacy

Related: At 80, I’m on the last lap of life’s circuit and I don’t want to get off | Stewart Dakers

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5 February 2019, 12:00 pm

Bart De Strooper: ‘Bright young scientists won’t come to join us in UK’

The Belgian biologist fears for the future of the pioneering UK Dementia Research Institute after Brexit

Bart De Strooper is clear about his decision to accept the post of running Britain’s massive pioneering research project on dementia. “I would have not gone for it had I known what I know now,” the 59-year-old Belgian biologist told the Observer last week.

The cause of his dismay is simple: Brexit has blighted the nation and distorted its attitude to international science, said De Strooper. As a result, his UK Dementia Research Institute, set up in 2016 at a cost of £250m with the aim of turning the UK into a world leader in dementia research, now faces serious funding and recruitment problems.

Another country or group of countries will do it and Britain will be the losers

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20 January 2019, 8:00 am

Mental capacity changes give care homes too much power, critics say

Charities, lawyers and Labour warn against government rushing out legislation in England and Wales

Changes to mental capacity safeguards – intended to protect hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people – will hand care home managers and private hospitals far too much power, the government has been warned.

The Law Society, mental health charities and Labour have accused the Department of Health and Social Care (DoH) of rushing through legislation that would remove independent scrutiny of the monitoring process to ensure that residents were not subjected to excessive restrictions.

Related: Companies running ‘inadequate’ UK care homes make £113m profit

Related: How music helps connect people living with dementia | Ploy Radford

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17 January 2019, 10:35 am

Activity sharpens even dementia-affected brains, report suggests

Moving more and strong motor skills seem to help cognitive prowess, results show

Moving more might help to keep people’s brains sharp as they age – even in the face of dementia, researchers have said.

Scientists have found older adults fared better when it came to cognitive tasks if they clocked up higher levels of daily activity on a wrist-based tracker – something the researchers said picked up everything from exercising to mundane tasks like chopping onions.

Related: Virtual reality to help detect early risk of Alzheimer’s

Related: Are we really on the brink of a cure for Alzheimer’s? | Dean Burnett

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16 January 2019, 9:00 pm

Why it’s worth striking the right note for people with dementia | Letters

Pat Kirwan on the rewards of playing music for those with the condition, and Prof Martin Green and Veronica Franklin Gould on accessing creative activities

It’s sad that Susan Tomes’ offer of playing for patients with dementia ground to a halt through red tape (Letters, 12 January). I can relate a very different experience.

I play in an ensemble of 11 (mature) amateur musicians, some of whom only picked up their first instrument at retirement. As a student exercise to try playing in front of an audience, we first offered our services to a local care home and we have never looked back. We play a mixture of American old-time music, with a clientele of care homes, Alzheimer’s support centres and the local hospital. There has never been a question of any form of vetting, even though we are sometimes left to entertain the residents without staff.

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15 January 2019, 5:32 pm

Music in dementia care sounds promising, but there is a catch | Letters

Pianist Susan Tomes volunteered to play for patients but found the checks off-putting. Steve Phaure takes issue with social prescribing

Your article on music in dementia care (Making music isn’t a nicety, it’s a necessity, 9 January) illustrates the benefit of using live music to unlock happy memories and powers of communication in dementia sufferers. It also explains that music-making initiatives are often impossible to implement because of the cost.

Some years ago, when I first had experience of family members in care, I realised that live music was a nice thing for dementia patients. As I am a professional pianist, I volunteered to go and play concerts of light and “vintage” piano music in care homes and hospitals. I did a supervised trial event in a long-stay unit, which seemed to show that residents would enjoy more of it.

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11 January 2019, 4:46 pm

How music helps connect people living with dementia | Ploy Radford

A new campaign aims to show how listening and playing music can help patients be happier, healthier and more harmonious

When Eileen Pegg developed dementia in 2015, she became very anxious and easily agitated. Her carers at MHA Weston and Queensway care home in Stafford were determined to find a way to make her happier, so they decided to see if music would help.

The care home, which is a specialist dementia care unit, has provided music therapy for more than 10 years, and these sessions have made a real difference to Pegg, according to care assistant Chloe Pugh. When Pegg, now 91, attended her first music therapy session in 2016, she was crying and unable to calm down. But immediately afterwards, Pegg was a “completely different person”, smiling and recalling dancing with her husband. “We can’t eliminate her anxiety completely, but we can help to alleviate the symptoms for Eileen, and help her engage more with what’s happening around her,” says Pugh. By singing and clapping along to music or playing instruments at her weekly one-to-one classes, Pegg is calmer, which has encouraged her to participate in other activities, thereby improving her appetite and mood.

Related: Why prescribing playlists for people with dementia is on the money | Ann Robinson

Related: ‘She is looking for memories’: love after dementia – photo essay

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9 January 2019, 7:30 am

Less than half over-40s take free NHS England health check

Test can help reduce risk of developing dementia, a leading cause of death in the UK

Less than half of people over 40 have taken up a free health check that could reduce the risk of developing dementia, according to NHS England.

Around 15 million people have been eligible to undergo the 20-minute assessment, which screens for heart problems, kidney disease and type 2 diabetes, over the past five years.

Related: Family’s lonely fight over dementia hospital death

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31 December 2018, 12:01 am

Baby boomers led the cult of youth. Now we should heed the wisdom of age | Yvonne Roberts

Intolerance towards the old is deeply embedded in our society. The potential of an ageing population must be unlocked

My strong, handsome, 5ft tall Geordie grandmother Thomasina travelled from Newcastle to Portsmouth in the 1920s on a coal boat, raised seven children and provided bed and board to merchant seamen as lodgers, constantly washing sheets by hand and torturing them with a mangle.

Like many of her generation, she believed her reputation relied on keeping herself to herself and on how well her brass shone. Around 60, again, like many of her generation, she slipped into old age and died not long after.

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30 December 2018, 9:00 am

The Blake-Wadsworth Gallery of Reborn Dolls – an original short story for Christmas by Amy Bloom

Amy Bloom is the award-winning author of four novels, two of which have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, four collections of short stories, a children’s book and an essay collection

My mother was crying on the floor, naked, except for her black velvet slippers and my daughter’s navy blazer left behind the last time Rebecca visited. The aide put a beige thermal blanket over her, the kind my mother refused to have in her house. It’s like being smothered by tissue, she said. It feels like bark, she said.

“Don’t worry,” the aide said. “We’ll have your mother fixed up in no time.”

About the author

She watched the news, cursing like a sailor. If it hadn’t been for her hatred of Trump, she’d have had no reason to live

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23 December 2018, 10:00 am

Jimmy McGovern: ‘We can’t dodge the issue of care for the elderly any longer

Screenwriter hopes new BBC production, called Care, will spark debate on growing social problem

The screenwriter Jimmy McGovern has called for a national conversation on attitudes towards care of the elderly and infirm, saying politicians needed to stop “dodging” the issue and that more television dramas should tackle such social problems.

McGovern, the writer behind award-winning programmes such as Cracker, Hillsborough and last year’s drama Broken, has made Care, a 90-minute production for the BBC. It tells the story of a single mother who has to care for her elderly mother after she has a stroke and develops dementia, and how the local health authorities refuse to take responsibility.

Related: Complaints over social care in England nearly trebled since 2010

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1 December 2018, 1:00 pm

Family’s lonely fight over dementia hospital death

‘I feel abandoned,’ says daughter of ex-footballer Frank Lockey over denial of legal aid for his inquest in Norwich

The family of a former footballer who died in a struggling dementia hospital will have to represent themselves at his inquest this week after being denied legal aid.

Frank Lockey, 84, who was on Liverpool’s books in the 1950s, was found dead in his chair at Norwich’s Julian Hospital in August last year. The grandfather from Dereham, Norfolk, had been admitted six months earlier suffering from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

I know I won’t win, but I’m doing it for Dad and to protect others in the future… It’s so unfair

Related: Just one hour a week of social interaction helps dementia patients

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25 November 2018, 7:59 am

Companies running 'inadequate' UK care homes make £113m profit

Critics call on firms to use wider income to address ‘terrible indignity and neglect’

Some of the country’s worst care homes are owned by companies that have made a total profit of £113m despite some of the vulnerable people they are supposed to look after being neglected, it can be revealed.

An investigation by the Guardian has found that companies owning homes that care for elderly people with dementia, disabled people and those with learning difficulties – and have been rated “inadequate”, the lowest possible rating by the Care Quality Commission – are turning over a healthy profit.

Elderly residents soiling themselves after being left because there were too few staff.

Staff using “inappropriate and disproportionate use of physical restraint” on residents with autism.

Patients being left waiting for long periods for under-pressure care workers to attend after ringing their call bells.

Carers failing to treat elderly residents with dignity and respect, with patients’ underwear being left exposed and faeces left smeared on a bedrail cushion.

Residents being placed at risk of abuse by other patients, with one being seriously harmed after an attack, and staff failing to safely manage medicines.

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23 November 2018, 7:44 pm

Low-protein, high-carb diet may help ward off dementia

Diet tested on mice proves more beneficial in some cases than restricting calories

A new study that found a low-protein, high-carbohydrate diet led to improved brain health in mice has sparked hopes carbohydrates could help ward off dementia.

Researchers at Sydney University’s Charles Perkins Centre fed the mice complex carbohydrates derived from starch, and casein protein, which is found in cheese and milk.

Related: ‘We need their brains’: donating to the brain bank in search of a dementia cure

Related: Food for thought: the smart way to better brain health

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21 November 2018, 2:25 am

Social care: 'How do others manage without the extra we're able to afford?'

Rosemary Moore, 86, on how her husband Derek’s dementia has affected their finances

Name: Rosemary and Derek Moore
Age: 86 and 87
Income: £44,232 (joint income)
Occupation: Retired teachers (schools and higher education)

Derek and I have been together for 56 years. And they’ve been very good years.

Related: ‘Living with a refugee gives you a real understanding of what is important’

Related: ‘I earn £70,000, but don’t live a lavish lifestyle and give much of it away’

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17 November 2018, 7:00 am

Why prescribing playlists for people with dementia is on the money | Ann Robinson

As a GP, I know that conventional medicine can’t solve the growing problems of obesity, stress and loneliness. But funding is key

It is no secret that the government likes “social prescribing”. Last month’s loneliness strategy included proposals for GPs to refer patients to art groups, cookery classes and other activities. And speaking at last week’s King’s Fund conference on the subject, the health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock, announced the creation of an academy to build a research base, train practitioners and champion the benefits of social prescribing. He wants to see a nationwide network of social prescribing projects that encourage individuals to take part in a range of activities including the arts, exercise, and nutritional advice.

Related: Combat loneliness with ‘social prescribing’, says Theresa May

Related: Lonely people need local connections – don’t make a song and dance of it | Geraldine Bedell

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14 November 2018, 8:00 am

'We need their brains': donating to the brain bank in search of a dementia cure

Scientists studying the tissue bequeathed to the Sydney Brain Bank hope it will lead them to an eventual cure for neurodegenerative diseases

It’s a rainy Wednesday morning and Dr Andrew Affleck is driving more carefully than usual on his way to the Neuroscience Research Australia building in Randwick.

It’s not just the slick, crowded roads putting the edge on his caution; in the boot of his car, cocooned in several layers of protective container and nestled in ice, is the brain of a human being who was alive only a few hours earlier.

Dr Andrew Affleck, a research associate at the Sydney Brain Bank

Adele Lusson, research assistant, preparing paraffin embedded tissue sections for staining

Andrew Affleck, removing tissue sections from the automated slide stainer.

Related: Are we really on the brink of a cure for Alzheimer’s? | Dean Burnett

(L-R) Removing tissue sections from the automated slide stainer; hanging lab coats

Adèle Lusson, research assistant, preparing paraffin embedded tissue sections for staining

Clockwise from top: Lucille Bloch; Keith Bloch; a black-and-white photo of Lucille and Keith Bloch

Related: Parkinson’s disease could originate in appendix, study finds

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13 November 2018, 5:00 pm

'She is looking for memories': love after dementia – photo essay

Gladys Saroli’s frontotemporal dementia is a cruel disease but her husband, Jose, spends every day by her side

Gladys Saroli’s hand is warm and soft to the touch. She gives mine a gentle squeeze.

“Hola,” she greets me softly, but soon turns back to the daytime television that fills the common room. Her husband, Jose, is all smiles and handshakes beneath his black cap advertising Peru, the country of their birth, and observes: “Gladys, she look good and well.”

Clockwise from top: The door to Gladys’s room, and inside the room, which is adorned with labelled photographs and cues to assist with her dementia.

There is no cure for frontotemporal dementia and no treatment to alleviate symptoms

Gladys Saroli in her room.

Family birthdays she come back to our house in Epping. She is looking, looking. She is happy.

Clockwise from top: Jose comforts Gladys in the living room, Jose assists Gladys with her dinner.

No way. This is not what’s meant to be

Jose wipes Gladys’s brow as she drifts off to sleep.

Clockwise from top: Jose Saroli, and Jose assists Gladys in the bathroom.

There are so many factors in ensuring a person with dementia has good quality of life

As her dementia has worsened, Gladys is almost non-verbal and has limited mobility. Right: Jose kisses Gladys goodnight.

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30 October 2018, 5:00 pm

OFM Awards 2018: Best Instagram Feed – Soulful Baker

Julie Jones documents kitchen life with her mum, who has dementia, and the healing she finds in baking cakes. And OFM readers loved her Instagram feed.

At 30, after office-based jobs, Julie Jones realised what she loved was feeding people and that it wasn’t too late to retrain. But on graduating from catering college in Carlisle, she found out she was pregnant and her mum, Joyce Armstrong, began to show early signs of dementia. Her desire to work in restaurants, such as the Fat Duck and Hind’s Head in Bray, where she did work experience, became a side-line to family.

I’d do all these fancy intricate pastries – I was grief-stricken and it really helped

Panna Cotta tart, you are too good to us. ♥️ This week, we want to see how you’re using berries. Tag your fruity concoctions with #f52berry and we’ll share your grams all week long. // : @julie_jonesuk

What an absolutely amazing day! Making pies with Jamie Oliver was definitely one of those pinch me am I dreaming moments! I had the best time, meeting and working alongside Jamie and his wonderful team, it really was something else. Jamie’s ‘Cook with Jamie’ cookbook is a book that I referred to so often when I wanted to improve as a cook. So many recipes from that book alone have filled and fuelled my family over the years. Never ever would I have guessed that 12 years after buying that book I would actually, in real life…..cook with Jamie! Truly, truly amazing. I’m back home feeling completely inspired, eager to create and write some more and share with you my new ideas. Thank you Jamie, thank you Ginny, thank you to each and every team member that I met and worked alongside yesterday. What a beautiful bunch you all are…all so warm, friendly and gracious. Everyone made me feel so welcome and at ease. I thoroughly enjoyed my day. Every single second of it. And Gennaro, you are awesome, Justine was absolutely chuffed! Lots of love, Julie xx

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24 October 2018, 7:00 am

When the play’s the thing to help us talk about Alzheimer’s

A show touring libraries in the south-east aims to help make people affected by dementia feel they are less alone

An actor sits in an armchair on a makeshift stage. People wander in, some elderly, many middle-aged and a few who look to be in their 20s. The actor, partly covered in a blanket, rocks slightly, staring at and wringing her hands. “Puh … puh …. puh,” she says. It’s Connie. This is no ordinary theatre. This is Newbury library at 7pm on a Wednesday. Some, oblivious to the waiting play, talk and exchange books. Most stay to watch the performance.

Emily, Connie’s daughter, appears when there’s a full audience of around 35 people. “Hi mum, it’s me,” she says. Kissing Connie on the head, she talks about her first TV cooking show and looks through a large book. “There’s a recipe of your rock cakes in here,” Emily says. “Here we are, Connie’s rock cakes … gosh 1987.” It’s Connie’s memory book. She has dementia.

Related: Nursing home lets people with dementia live down memory lane

Related: Seven ways to help avoid dementia

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23 October 2018, 1:00 pm