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Improving life with dementia

11 December 2013

Elderly couple on bench_web

The G8 summit has announced today the launch of a £4 million research project about improving life with dementia.

This new project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and National Institute for Health Research hopes to answer some key questions: How can people with dementia be supported to live well?  What affects their ability to do this and when should support be offered to help people live well with this challenging disease?

Researchers in the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD) will collaborate with lead researchers at Bangor University who have been awarded £4 million to lead the ‘Improving the experience of Dementia and Enhancing Active life: Living well with dementia’ (IDEAL) project. The study is a collaborative project with Brunel University, the London School of Economics, King’s College London, Sussex University, the Research Institute for the Care of Older People (RICE), the Alzheimer’s Society and Innovations in Dementia CIC.

The IDEAL project is a five-year study of 1,500 people with dementia and their family carers throughout the UK.  Researchers will investigate how social and psychological factors affect the way in which people adapt to the effects of dementia and the challenges it presents, and how this changes over time as dementia progresses. The aim is to better identify at what stage individuals, communities, health and social care practitioners, care providers and policy-makers can intervene to improve the likelihood of living well with dementia.

Professor Linda Clare, who will lead the work at Bangor, said: "IDEAL will be the first large-scale study of its kind, and we expect it to have a major impact on the lives and experiences of people with dementia and family carers in the UK and internationally. In addition, the study will help to develop the skills of researchers in the dementia field and stimulate new developments. We believe the results will provide a unique resource and focus for social science research on dementia."

Professor Ian Rees Jones, Director of WISERD and the Cardiff University lead on the project, said: "This will be a unique study designed to follow a large number of people with dementia and their carers over time to explore their backgrounds and experiences and to identify factors that help or hinder them in adapting to and living with dementia."

The funding was announced at the G8 Dementia Summit in London on 11 December 2013.  With the level of funding into research into dementia criticised by charities as being too low, the investment in these critical projects demonstrates a growing commitment to improving understanding and care.

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WISERD