Thoughts ramble in no certain progression
The mind wanders without restriction
Fixated on things not happening
Conversations not followed clearly
Anger, frustration make themselves known.
Certain that others are against them
Can hypnosis help to slow dementia?
craegmoor.co.uk 6 August 2008
Each week it seems new research sheds more light on elderly mental illness and clinical trials offer hope of new treatments, yet recent studies have suggested dementia sufferers may benefit from more unconventional methods.
One recent development has seen elderly residents in some Welsh care homes given Nintendo Wii games, similar to those used in schools to encourage children to exercise, the BBC reports.
Neath Port Talbot council hopes the games consoles will help to keep residents "mentally alert".
Now, researchers at the University of Liverpool have found that effects of dementia can be slowed down through hypnosis, helping to improve the quality of life for those with the condition.
Hypnosis has been found to offer other medicinal benefits, particularly in alleviating cancer suffers' pain, research from the American Cancer Society has shown. Dr Ted Gansler wrote in the journal Cancer that studies have shown hypnosis and acupuncture can relieve some symptoms of the disease, yet very few people actually make use of such therapies.
Instead, the majority of those surveyed by Dr Gansler said prayer, relaxation, faith healing and nutritional supplements were the most common forms of complementary and alternative therapies.
While less than two per cent of cancer sufferers turn to hypnosis and acupuncture, 61.4 per cent chose spiritual practice, the cancer society's study revealed.
However, the Liverpool university study showed that hypnosis could also have significant benefits for those with dementia.
Led by forensic psychologist Dr Simon Duff, the research team compared the effects of hypnosis with that of "mainstream" healthcare treatments on those with dementia, as well as investigating the impact of a form of group therapy.
According to the report, those receiving hypnosis therapy demonstrated improved levels of concentration, memory and socialisation, while relaxation and motivation were also found to have improved.
Dr Duff said that during the study, which involved weekly sessions over a nine-month period, those simply attending the discussion group appeared to stay the same. Meanwhile, people receiving the normal treatment actually showed a "small decline".
Participants given hypnosis therapy "showed real improvement across all of the areas" monitored by the research team, Dr Duff explained.
"Participants who are aware of the onset of dementia may become depressed and anxious at their gradual loss of cognitive ability and so hypnosis – which is a tool for relaxation – can really help the mind concentrate on positive activity like socialization," he added.
The news could bring hope to the 700,000 people living with dementia in the UK – a figure expected to exceed one million by 2025, statistics from the Alzheimer's Society show. Some 60,000 deaths each year can be attributed to the condition, while the illness costs the UK approximately £17 billion annually.
Dr Dan Nightingale, who co-wrote the research into hypnosis, said existing evidence suggests that the "correct use" of hypnosis can "enhance" the quality of life for those with dementia.
"We have now developed a course for clinicians who wish to incorporate hypnosis into health care plans," he stated.
The Alzheimer's Society suggests that communication can be crucial when caring for people with dementia, as this can "vastly improve quality of life" for those with the condition.
Susanne Sorensen, head of research at the society, said speaking to people in an "adult manner" can enhance their overall care experience.
"Alzheimer's Society research is calling for mandatory specialist dementia training to help empower staff and ensure everyone gets access to a high standard of care," she remarked.
Evidence suggests therefore, that effective methods of care for those with dementia may not be confined to those of the "mainstream", meaning moving forward hypnosis may find its place in a more-rounded method of treatment.
Early Onset Dementia
Hypnosis: a tool for coping with chronic pain
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