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Painkillers ‘may ease agitation’ in dementia patients

As reported by BBC New today

Many dementia patients being prescribed “chemical cosh” antipsychotic drugs could be better treated with simple painkillers, research says.

The British and Norwegian study, published on the BMJ website, found painkillers significantly cut agitation in dementia patients.

Agitation, a common dementia symptom, is often treated with antipsychotic drugs, which have risky side effects.

The Alzheimer’s Society wants doctors to consider other types of treatment.

Experts say that each year about 150,000 patients in the UK are unnecessarily prescribed antipsychotics, which have a powerful sedative effect, and can worsen dementia symptoms, and increase the risk of stroke or even death.

They are often given to patients whose dementia makes them aggressive or agitated.

But researchers from Kings College, London, and Norway speculated that the behaviour may sometimes be caused by pain, which patients were unable to express in other ways.

They studied 352 patients with moderate or severe dementia in nursing homes in Norway.

Half were given painkillers with every meal, the rest continued with their usual treatments.

Supervised treatment ‘key’

After eight weeks, there was a 17% reduction in agitation symptoms in the group being given painkillers – a greater improvement than would have been expected from treatment with antipsychotics.

The researchers concluded that if patient’s pain was properly managed, doctors could reduce the number of prescriptions for antipsychotic drugs.

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Prof Clive Ballard, Alzheimer’s Society: “Simple painkillers… had a a very, very substantial impact”

Professor Clive Ballard, one of the report authors and director of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, said the finding was significant.

“At the moment, pain is very under-treated in people with dementia, because it’s very hard to recognise,” he said.

“I think this could make a substantial difference to people’s lives – it could help them live much better with dementia.”

However, he said painkillers should only be given to patients under the supervision of a doctor.

The Alzheimer’s Society is issuing new guidance calling on doctors to think much harder before prescribing antipsychotics, and to look at prescribing pain medication instead.

The National Care Association said the study highlighted some of the complexities of dementia.

“Pain in itself is debilitating, so to identify it as the route cause of agitation and aggressive behaviour is a major breakthrough which will enable us to support people appropriately,” said its chairman, Nadra Ahmed.

A government programme to reduce the inappropriate prescription of antipsychotic drugs is already under way in England.

The care services minister Paul Burstow welcomed the study.

“It should act as a further call for GPs to carefully examine the reason why those with dementia display agitated behaviour, rather than immediately resorting to antipsychotic medication,” he said.

Rose Lodge Launch befriending scheme

As reported by the Exmouth Journal today.

To mark National Dementia week, Rose Lodge, East Devon’s dementia specialists, are launching a befriending scheme for people with dementia and their carers in Exmouth.

Under this scheme, people with dementia are given the opportunity to get involved in some of the popular activities at Rose Lodge, such as the weekly drama class, and the Rose Lodge Ramblers that meet weekly for a good two hour walk around the Devon countryside.

“Isolation is a real problem for people with dementia and their carers, and too often life can become a bit of a grind. Public services for people with dementia are very limited and so we are happy to be able to make some of our activities programme available to people in the community” says Karen Bousher, manager at Rose Lodge.

If you would like to participate in the scheme, please contact Karen at Rose Lodge on 01395 227071.

East Devon Reminiscence Bus set for lift-off

As reported by Social Enterprise

Social Enterprise Mark holder Age UK Devon, together with Honiton Memory Café and Dr Ruth Darvill have brought the People’s Millions to East Devon after the public voted them winners of a £43,579 Big Lottery Fund grant in a special competition to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

The Jubilee People’s Millions is a competition run by the Big Lottery Fund in partnership with ITV and with the approval of Buckingham Palace. Age UK Devon and partners have been campaigning throughout Devon for the last three weeks to gain support from local people. The public vote by phone to decide which local projects should receive Lottery good-cause funding.

A short film about the ‘Heading along Memory Lane’ project was aired on the ITV West Country News on Monday night, up against another Devon-based project, ‘Dancing Devon’. The film featured a vintage Coronation lunch party at Broadhembury Village Hall and the vintage bus, which is the focal point of the ‘Heading along Memory Lane project. Members of the Memory Café spoke fondly about their memories of yesteryear sparked by their journey on the specially equipped Memory Lane bus. The emotionally-charged short film captured the hearts and minds of the voting public, scooping the cash prize for the ‘Heading along Memory Lane’ project.

In a nail-biting finale to the funding campaign, the winner of the public vote was announced – with the ITV film cameras rolling – at the Boston Tea Party in Honiton. Nina Parnell of Age UK Devon says, “We are absolutely delighted to have won the People’s Millions. We would like to thank everyone in Devon who backed our bid and made that ‘call to make a difference’. We couldn’t have done it without the tremendous support from the community – from local businesses and Devon-based employers to community groups, our volunteers and individuals who recognised the importance of this project. We are now looking forward to working with people affected by dementia and their carers to design Reminiscence Day Trips around East Devon on the 1958 ‘Memory Lane’ bus. These trips will enable people with dementia to re-live their experiences of yesteryear, providing therapeutic benefits and encouraging the sharing of happy memories from the past”

Mark Cotton Big Lottery Fund’s Head of the South West region, said: “The Jubilee People’s Millions is a great way of showing what local groups can achieve when they have the support of their community behind them, and we’d like to congratulate Age UK Devon on their success in yesterday’s contest. We are extremely pleased to be running the competition with the approval of Buckingham Palace and there are more fantastic projects yet to be showcased over the next couple of days. I urge everyone to continue to tune in to ITV Westcountry, pick up the phone and vote for their favourite project.”

Adam Crozier, ITV Chief Executive said: “We’re delighted to be able to support the Jubilee People’s Millions, which is a terrific partnership between ITV and the Big Lottery Fund, and gives our viewers the opportunity to influence how thousands of pounds of Lottery funding is spent in their community.”

Elfie and Margaret are famous!

A few of us sat down by ‘the wireless’ this morning to listen to the wonderful ‘Dot’s diary’ programme on BAY FM, Exmouth’s local radio station. The programme featured two of our residents. Elfie told stories about her life including growing up in Germany during the war. Margaret’s husband talked about the life he shared with Margaret who resides at Rose Lodge, and Margaret was mesmerised the moment she heard Barry’s voice on the radio..

It was wonderful for people to be able to hear these wonderful stories. Well Done Dot – and THANK YOU!

Rose Lodge residents tell their stories on BAY FM

A couple of weeks ago, BAY FM came to Rose Lodge to record stories by some of the Rose Lodge residents. The first of the two programmes of Dot’s diary was broadcast today and will be repeated 29 May 7pm to 8 pm.  A second programme with stories from Rose Lodge residents will go out Thursday 2n June 10 am to 11 am , and is repeated Sunday  4 June 7 pm to 8 pm.

So today we sat in the lounge and listened to the Dot’s diaries programme, and then took a couple of our residents to visit the studios and watch a live radio programme.