People with dementia benefit from goal-orientated therapy

Personalised cognitive rehabilitation therapy can help people with early stage dementia significantly improve their ability to engage in important everyday activities and tasks. | via ScienceDaily

A large-scale trial has found that cognitive rehabilitation leads to people seeing satisfying progress in areas that enable them to maintain their functioning and independence.

Cognitive rehabilitation involves a therapist working with the person with dementia and a family carer to identify issues where they would like to see improvements. Together, they set up to three goals, and the therapist helps to develop strategies to achieve these goals.

The goals participants chose were varied, as dementia affects people in a wide range of ways. Some participants wanted to find ways of staying independent, for example by learning or re-learning how to use household appliances or mobile phones. Some wanted to manage daily tasks better, and worked with therapists on developing strategies to prevent them burning their food when cooking meals. Others wanted to stay socially connected, and focussed on being able to remember details like the names of relatives or neighbours, or improving their ability to engage in conversation. Sometimes staying safe was important, so strategies focused on things like remembering to lock the door at home or withdrawing money safely from a cashpoint.

The Goal-oriented Cognitive Rehabilitation in Early-stage Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias: Multi-centre Single-blind Randomised Controlled Trial (GREAT) trial involved 475 people across eight sites in England and Wales. Half of them received ten cognitive rehabilitation sessions over three months, and the other half did not. The group receiving the therapy then took part in four “top-up” sessions over six months.

The researchers found that those who took part in the therapy showed significant improvement in the areas they had identified, after both the ten week and “top-up” sessions. Family carers agreed that their performance had improved. Both participants and carers were happier with the participants’ abilities in the areas identified.

Full story: University of Exeter. “People with dementia benefit from goal-oriented therapy: Personalized cognitive rehabilitation therapy can help people with early stage dementia significantly improve their ability to engage in important everyday activities and tasks.” ScienceDaily. | 18 July 2017.

Detecting Alzheimer’s disease before symptoms emerge

Cognitive tests can detect early Alzheimer’s disease in older adults without symptoms according to a new study. | Neuropsychology Review | via ScienceDaily

A new study led by Duke Han, suggests that cognitive tests are able to detect early Alzheimer’s in people without symptoms. Han and his colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 61 studies to explore whether neuropsychological tests can identify early Alzheimer’s disease in adults over 50 with normal cognition.

The study, which was published in Neuropsychology Review, found that people who had amyloid plaques performed worse on neuropsychological tests of global cognitive function, memory, language, visuospatial ability, processing speed and attention/working memory/executive function than people who did not have amyloid plaques.

The study also found that people with tau pathology or neurodegeneration performed worse on memory tests than people with amyloid plaques. Amyloid plaques and tau pathology were confirmed by PET scan or cerebrospinal fluid analysis.

Han believes that the study results provide a solid argument for incorporating cognitive testing into routine, annual checkups for older people.

Full story at ScienceDaily

Article reference: S. Duke Han et al. Detectable Neuropsychological Differences in Early Preclinical Alzheimer’s Disease: A Meta-Analysis. Neuropsychology Review, 2017


Care-planning intervention for people living with early-stage dementia

Orsulic-Jeras, S.  et al. The SHARE program for dementia: Implementation of an early-stage dyadic care-planning intervention. Dementia. Published online before print October 13, 2016.



This article describes the implementation of SHARE (Support, Health, Activities, Resources, and Education), a counseling-based care-planning intervention for persons living with early-stage dementia and their family caregivers (CGs).

The foundation of SHARE is built upon assessing and documenting the person living with dementia’s care values and preferences for future care. Using the SHARE approach, CGs are given an opportunity to achieve an understanding of their loved one’s desires before the onset of disease progression when the demand for making care decisions is high.

Through working together with a SHARE Counselor, the care dyad begins to identify other sources of support, such as family and friends and service providers, in order to build a more balanced and realistic plan of care for the future.

Data were collected from 40 early-stage dementia care dyads to determine the acceptability of having structured discussions about future care in the early stages of dementia.

Findings from this study demonstrate the importance of planning in the early stages when persons with dementia can voice their care values and preferences for future care. Finally, this paper illustrates the use of supportive strategies such as rapport building, establishing buy-in, and communication to initiate care-related discussions with care dyads in the early stages that will help lead to more effective decision making in the future.

We must make the most of Alzheimer’s disease research

Professor Alistair Burns and Professor Martin Rossor | NHS England

dementia-595638_960_720It is important to plan for the future but there is some thinking and planning to be done before we arrive there.

The focus of research has shifted significantly away from established and moderately severe Alzheimer’s disease to the much earlier stages of the illness and in some cases when symptoms are very mild or even absent. People have called this “Prodromal” Alzheimer’s disease or “Asymptomatic” Alzheimer’s disease.

The opportunities for Alzheimer’s disease are significant in terms of potentially identifying people at risk, elucidating pathological mechanisms, perhaps helping predict who may respond to treatment allowing us to target interventions.

Read the full story via NHS England

Early psychosocial intervention does not delay institutionalization in persons with mild Alzheimer disease and has impact on neither disease progression nor caregivers’ well-being: ALSOVA 3-year follow-up

International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry

Early diagnosis, initiation of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) therapy and programs that support care of persons with AD at home are recommended. The objective of this study was to assess the effect of early psychosocial intervention on delaying the institutionalization of persons with AD. We also assessed the influence of intervention on AD progression, behavioral symptoms, and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in persons with AD and caregivers.

Kuopio ALSOVA study, a prospective, randomized intervention study with a 3-year follow-up, was carried out at memory clinics. Home-dwelling persons with very mild or mild AD (n = 236) and AD-targeted therapy and their family caregivers (n = 236) were randomized to the intervention or control group (1:2). Psychosocial intervention including education, counseling, and social support was given during the first 2 years (16 days). The primary outcome was the cumulative risk (controlled for death) of institutionalization over 36 months. Secondary outcomes were adjusted mean changes from baseline in disease severity, cognition, daily activities, behavior, and HRQoL for persons with AD; and change in psychological distress, depression, and HRQoL for caregivers.

No differences were found in nursing home placement after the 36-month follow-up between intervention and control groups. No beneficial effects of the intervention were found on the secondary outcomes.

The psychosocial intervention did not delay nursing home placement in persons with AD and had no effect on patient well-being, disease progression, or AD-related symptoms or caregiver well-being. Instead of automatically providing psychosocial intervention courses, individualized support programs may be more effective.

via Early psychosocial intervention does not delay institutionalization in persons with mild Alzheimer disease and has impact on neither disease progression nor caregivers’ well-being: ALSOVA 3-year follow-up – Koivisto – 2015 – International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry – Wiley Online Library.

Benefits of Timely Diagnosis and Early Intervention in Dementia (BMJ)

Benefits of Timely Diagnosis and Early Intervention in Dementia (BMJ).

By 2050 an estimated 135 million people worldwide will have dementia. In 2010 the global cost of dementia care was estimated at $604bn (£396bn; €548bn) and estimated to increase to $1tr by 2030.1 Of all chronic diseases, dementia is one of the most important contributors to dependence and disability.

In the absence of a cure, a professional belief that nothing can be done has contributed to delays in diagnosis. However, increasing evidence showing that dementia may be preventable has led to an international focus on earlier diagnosis and intervention. This review aims to summarise current evidence and best practice in the diagnosis and early intervention in dementia care

via Dementia and Elderly Care News.