Guest blog: Dementia Awareness Week gets the Big Lottery Fund thinking

Castlehaven Community Centre
Castlehaven Community Centre

This guest blog was contributed by Abigail Ryan, Learning and Programmes Manager at the Big Lottery Fund. The Big Lottery Fund awards grants to UK organisations to help improve their communities. 

Ways of helping people to live well with dementia have been on our minds at the Big Lottery Fund recently, particularly in the wake of this year’s Dementia Awareness Week. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this has been an emerging theme on our UK Accelerating Ideas programme, which aims to get great ideas and practice for our ageing society more widely shared and adopted across the UK. Continue reading “Guest blog: Dementia Awareness Week gets the Big Lottery Fund thinking”

Guest blog: Becoming ‘the best place in the world’ for dementia treatment

This guest blog was contributed by William Kloverod Griffiths, Policy and Projects Officer, at the think tank ResPublica

The Prime Minister wants the UK to be ‘the best place in the world to undertake research into dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.’ The UK has indeed taken a leading role in initiatives among the G7 countries and the World Health Organisation, and the amount of money going into dementia research in the UK has recently doubled.

However, the total figure is still low when compared to funding for other conditions (such as cancer). There has also been a considerable focus on funding biomedical research ahead of research on how to best care for people with dementia. To be truly ‘best in the world’ we must see dementia not only through a biomedical lens but as a much wider issue which draws in all sections of society. Continue reading “Guest blog: Becoming ‘the best place in the world’ for dementia treatment”

Guest blog: Time is now for people powered dementia care

This guest post was contributed by Ewan King, director of business development and delivery, at the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE).

“I am doing something worthwhile. I am earning my bread again”. This is what Brian, who has dementia, said about how his life has changed for the better as a result of directly shaping the care that he and others receive. He is not alone in benefiting from being involved in decisions about care.

In England, it is estimated that around 676,000 people have dementia. This number is expected to grow over the coming years. And this comes at a time when there are severe cuts in budgets, particularly in social care. So what can public services do when more traditional solutions – such as recruiting more staff or expanding services – are not open to them? Whilst at the same time we know that people with dementia – and their carers – need person-centred holistic care and support, including high quality social care. Continue reading “Guest blog: Time is now for people powered dementia care”

Guest blog: Dementia is a women’s issue

This week we have a guest blog from Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society, on women and dementia. 

Dementia is one of those illnesses that we don’t really like to talk about do we?  It’s associated with ageing and while we know that we have an ageing society all the images around us are rather in denial preferring to promote youthful beauty.  But it’s also a gender issue because women are more likely than men to be affected.

That is why I am pleased to be speaking at Age UK’s For Later Life conference on this issue in November.  In fact I was shocked to learn when researching the subject that dementia is now the biggest cause of death for women in the UK.  Women over 60 are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than breast cancer. So it would seem reasonable to expect that research in this area would be focussing more heavily on women.  But this is not so. Continue reading “Guest blog: Dementia is a women’s issue”

Guest blog: How music can help people living with dementia

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Our first blog of the week looks at how music can be used as a way to help care for and support people living with dementia. It was contributed by Doctor Victoria Williamson, Director of Music and Wellbeing, at the University of Sheffield. 

Music is powerful, multi-functional, ageless and universal: one of the greatest human inventions.

You will, no doubt, know music that instantly transports you back in time to a treasured memory. Lyrics pop automatically to your mind. You remember music from decades ago but struggle with the names of people you met just days before.

Psychological studies support these anecdotal accounts of the power of music in long-term memory. Individuals who face extreme challenges to their memory, such as amnesia or dementia, rarely lose these musical connections.

I run the ‘Music and Wellbeing’ research unit at the University of Sheffield and for the last year my team has been looking at the impacts of live music sessions in dementia care*. Nine South Yorkshire care homes opened their doors to us and we recorded remarkable moments between the community of individuals living with dementia, their carers and loved ones, and the visiting musicians. Continue reading “Guest blog: How music can help people living with dementia”

Guest blog – Living well with dementia: understanding the benefits of music therapy

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Today’s guest post is from Donald Wetherick, Chair of Trustees at the British Association for Music TherapyAge UK recently took part in a Parliamentary roundtable exploring the benefits of music therapy for people living with dementia, as part of Music Therapy Week.

Over 800,000 people in Britain live with dementia. This is expected to increase to 2 million by 2050. For the growing number of people living with dementia, their carers and families, music therapy can play an important role in supporting their wellbeing and quality of life.

Oliver Sachs, the well-known neurologist, in his book ‘Musicophilia’, describes music therapy as seeking to ‘address the emotions, cognitive powers, thoughts and memories, the surviving “self” of the patient… to enrich and enlarge existence, to give freedom, stability, organisation and focus.’

Leading research shows it can significantly improve the lives of people with dementia, reducing agitation, isolation and depression as well as the need for medication. It can help people at all stages of dementia. Continue reading “Guest blog – Living well with dementia: understanding the benefits of music therapy”