The work being done is not just about diagnosis, some of it focuses on improving the way sufferers and their carers live day to day with the condition. In that field, the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), along with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), is providing£20 million for six research projects which will significantly add to understanding of dementia.
Amongst other things, the research will look at how to better prevent dementia, and improve the quality of life of those with the condition, and their carers. ESRC Chief Executive Paul Boyle said: “Dementia is a major challenge for our society, and it is imperative to develop an understanding of the needs of those with dementia, their families and the communities they live in. “These six funded projects will provide much-needed evidence for changes in future health and social care policy, as well as practical guidance for charities and third sector organisations working with sufferers of dementia.”
The first study, Neighbourhoods and Dementia, will focus on the local neighbourhoods and networks in which people with dementia and their carers live. It will explore what makes a dementia-friendly neighbourhood. “In our five-year study we want to celebrate the achievements, growth and contribution that people with dementia and their carers make to society,” said lead researcher Professor John Keady from the University of Manchester. Another study, Promoting Independence in Dementia (PRIDE), aims to identify how social and lifestyle changes may help reduce the risk of developing dementia and disability, with the research led by Professor Martin Orrell at University College London.
A third study, Managing Agitation and Raising Quality of Life, aims to increase knowledge of agitation, which occurs in about 50 per cent of people with moderate or severe dementia. The symptoms, which signify unmet need, include restlessness, pacing, shouting or even verbal or physical aggression. The research team, led by Professor Gillian Livingston at University College London, will develop, test and implement a manual to train staff about how best to reduce agitation and improve quality of life in care homes. Professor Martin Knapp at the London School of Economics and Political Science will lead another study, which will develop a model to better predict the future costs of dementia.
The fifth study, Living well with Dementia, is being led by Professor Linda Clare from Bangor University. It will identify what helps people to live well, or makes it difficult to live well in the context of having dementia or caring for a person with dementia. The final study, Seeing what they see, led by Dr Sebastian Crutch from University College London, will investigate the effects of visual aids on the well-being and quality of life of both patients with dementia and carers.