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Dementia’s link with stress and a relaxing way to deal with it

Until psychological or drug-based treatments for dementia come along, the medical and residential care community is working on the basis that the disease may be related to stress and, therefore, anything which relaxes sufferers may help them cope better.

In its latest initiative, the Alzheimer’s Society is funding a research project being led by Professor Clive Holmes at the University of Southampton. The plan is to monitor 140 people aged over 50 and with mild cognitive impairment for a period of 18 months.
Around 60% of people with mild cognitive impairment go on to develop Alzheimer’s and Professor Holmes is trying to identify the extent to which stressful events play a part in this process. Such events may include a bereavement or even a house move. He and his colleagues plan to look at two aspects of stress relief- physical and psychological and how bodies respond to that experience.
The study forms part of a £1.5 million package of six grants from the Alzheimer’s Society designed to help find the cause of the disease, a cure and ways to prevent it. As the charity’s research manager,Anne Corbett, explains: "We feel this is a really important area of research that needs more attention. The results could offer clues to new treatments or better ways of managing the condition."
Meanwhile, a Cardiff care home which has residents suffering from dementia is pioneering new ways of relaxing them and has recently commissioned a specially designed “ Sensory Room “ with an array of sensory charms. Its walls are painted in a serene aqua colour with one wall covered in 3D wallpaper, depicting a waterfall. There are also light-up dragonflies dangling from the ceiling, colour changing fish tanks and a state-of-the-art music system emitting soothing sounds.
There have already been some encouraging early signs of the room’s influence with carers reporting a significant reduction in the fluctuation of residents’ behaviour. The room was the idea of Amanda Francis, the home’s activities co-ordinator, and she is understandably proud of her creation :  “The new sensory room is wonderful. Everyone loves all the sensory toys we have includedFree Reprint Articles, especially the glow in the dark bubbles and mix of relaxing smells. We have an amazing home and this is just another step in the right direction to accommodate the needs of our residents”  she enthuses.

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The care home which is at Greenhill Manor in the Merthyr Tydfil area specialises in dementia residential, dementia nursing, respite and young physically disabled care. You can find out more at Care Home in Ely Carfiff.

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