Active engagement - a better way for improved dementia outcomes?

As a feature of Dementia Awareness Month 2016, visiting national geriatric expert Associate Professor Craig Whitehead today presented to aged care and dementia sector representatives at a Hobart forum hosted by Alzheimer’s Australia Tasmania.

Prof. Whitehead told the audience that those diagnosed with dementia often report that they should just go home and wait for the inevitable deterioration in their condition, whereas patients with other chronic conditions are asked to become more engaged and be active self-managers.

“The recent clinical guidelines for people with dementia suggest several areas that can help people with dementia be more actively engaged,” Prof. Whitehead said. “Aerobic exercise is important for improving independence in people with dementia, and cognitive stimulation as a group intervention is also useful in improving cognition through social interaction.”

Craig Whitehead said that individualised or carer-based interventions formed on a rehabilitation framework are known to improve ability in people with dementia. “We should not be encouraging computer-based memory exercises as there is no scientific basis to suggest they will help people with dementia,” Prof. Whitehead said.

He said that there is significant scope for dementia patients and responsive healthcare systems to work together to actively prevent the complications of the condition. “Actively involving people living with dementia in the care and management of their condition presents great opportunities for improving outcomes; the evidence on cognitive and physical strategies is compelling,” Prof. Whitehead said.

ENDS  AATas CEO Tony Reidy ph. 0419 361 915

Associate Professor Craig Whitehead

Associate Professor Craig Whitehead is a specialist in geriatric medicine. He is a member of the Flinders University Department of Rehabilitation and Aged Care based out of the Repatriation General Hospital in Southern Adelaide.
He is currently the Regional Clinical Director for Rehabilitation and Aged Care in the Southern Adelaide Health Service and is an active clinician in both public and private practice. He is a past President of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Geriatric Medicine. He chairs the expert working group for the care of frail older South Australians for SA Health.
He has research interests in falls, residential aged care and health services for older patients.