Gray zones and sexlife in dementia

This article comes from the Danish news source Kristeligt Dagblad (Christian Daily Paper). It’s about a particular gray zone in dementia care – the sex life of the spouse to someone with dementia. The original article is in Danish (you can access it by clicking on the title, below), and I have translated the article into English and edited the content to fit this blog.

I think it’s important to realize that the issue isn’t black and white and it isn’t just about sex or adultery. It’s about our very human need to connect with others, to share with others, and the emotional bond of companionship – all of which can also happen without sex. It is a similarly difficult issue when individuals with dementia find a new girl/boyfriend – they are acting on their emotional drive for closeness and attachment to others.

Taboo and infidelity among spouses to someone with dementia 

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Denmark’s National Dementia Strategy

While it is great that Denmark has actively worked on developing a National Dementia Strategy, there are a few issues I am concerned about.

The first, is that the strategy ran for three years, from 2011-2014. As far as I can tell to date, there is no new version of the National Dementia Strategy. After some digging, I did find that Demensalliancen has set forth some goals in a national dementia plan through 2025. These 5 goals are given at the end of this post.

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Træner sig til bedre hukommelse

Mennesker med demens træner sig til bedre hukommelse

Skrevet af Ritzau den 12. maj 2015 

Træning hjælper Alzheimerpatienter til at huske og koncentrere sig. Alzheimerforeningen: Giv alle tilbuddet.

Som de første i verden har en gruppe danskere med Alzheimer bevist, at fysisk træning styrker de intellektuelle evner og samtidig øger livskvaliteten.

Når kroppen sættes i bevægelse, støttes hukommelsen og koncentrationsevnen, ligesom motionen har en gavnlig indvirkning på den uro, som mange patienter med Alzheimer lider af.

“Vi kan se, at patienter, der træner fysisk, opnår en effekt på flere områder. De fungerer bedre i deres hverdag, og i bedste fald kan motionen have en bremsende effekt på sygdommen,” siger forskningsleder, professor Steen Hasselbalch, Nationalt Videnscenter for Demens til Ritzau.

I alt har 200 patienter ramt i lettere grad af den alvorlige demenssygdom siden 2012 deltaget i projektet. Halvdelen trænede gennem 16 uger i fællesskab med andre og under overværelse af fysioterapeuter. Den anden gruppe fik ingen træning.

Det primære mål var at styrke evnen til at huske og koncentrere sig, hvilket lykkedes for to ud af tre patienter. Det var den gruppe, som mødte op til 80 procent af de tre ugentlige træninger, og som trænede med en så høj intensitet, at de blev forpustede.

“De oplevede en effekt på deres mentale tempo, opmærksomhed og koncentration,” siger Steen Hasselbach.

Endnu er det for tidligt at fastslå, hvorfor motion indvirker positivt på hjernen. Men det kan muligvis skyldes, at musklerne under træning udskiller stoffer, der menes at have en beskyttende og stimulerende effekt på neuronerne.

Men forklaringen kan også være så enkel, at patienterne sover bedre og i det hele taget føler et større velvære, når de træner, og dermed får lettere ved at klare dagligdagen.

I Alzheimerforeningen opfordrer direktør Nis Peter Nissen Folketinget til at pålægge kommunerne at tilbyde alle med Alzheimer fysisk træning.

Det vil ikke alene gavne patienter og pårørende, men også spare indlæggelser og plejehjemspladser.

Training for better memory

People with dementia train for better memory

Written by Ritzau May 12, 2015

Training helps Alzheimer’s patients to remember and concentrate. Alzheimer’s Association: Give all the offer.
As the first in the world, a group of Danes with Alzheimer proven that physical exercise strengthens the intellectual ability and increase the quality of life.

When the body starts to move, support memory and concentration ability, like exercise has a beneficial effect on the unrest that many patients with Alzheimer suffer.

“We can see that patients who exercise physically achieve an effect in several areas. They function better in their daily lives, and, at best, exercise can have a delaying effect on the disease,” says research leader Professor Steen Hasselbalch of the National Dementia Research Center.

A total of 200 patients affected by dementia since 2012 participated in the project. Half trained through 16 weeks in a community with others and in the presence of physiotherapists. The other group received no training.

The primary goal was to strengthen the ability to remember and concentrate, which was achieved in two out of three patients. It was achieved in the group who showed up to 80 percent of the three weekly training sessions and trained with such a high intensity that they were out of breath.

“They saw an effect on their mental speed, attention, and concentration,” says Steen Hasselbach.

It is still too early to determine why exercise has a positive effect on the brain. But it may be due to the fact that muscles secrete substances that are believed to have a protective and stimulating effect on the neurons during exercise.

But the explanation can also be simple so that patients sleep better and in general feel a greater comfort when they train, and thus find it easier to cope with everyday life.

In the Danish Alzheimer’s Association, President Nis Peter Nissen urges parliament to require municipalities to offer physical exercise to everyone with Alzheimer’s disease.

This will not only benefit patients and relatives, but also save admissions and nursing home places.

Dementia Days 2015 in Copenhagen

The theme for Dementia Days 2015 in Copenhagen, Denmark is “A dementia friendly society.” The conference takes place May 11-12 in Copenhagen and is largely targeted towards the Danish professional sector.

Dementia Days is an annual multidisciplinary conference on dementia, where more than 900 professionals from across the country meet over two days. Dementia Days appeals to both professionals and managers who work with the diagnosis, treatment, social work, and care of people with dementia. The conference is an opportunity for further training for employees and managers in health and social care. Relatives and volunteers in associations may also benefit from taking part in the conference.

The conference will begin this year with a joint symposium where participants will be inspired by Britain and the Netherlands, who are working in different ways to make society more dementia friendly. You can further choose from a number of parallel symposia:

  • Technological options
  • The digital society – a dementia friendly society?
  • Memory impairment but not dementia
  • When behavior challenges
  • Alzheimer’s disease – the latest news
  • Physical activity in the home
  • Reminiscence
  • Visual experiences and misconceptions
  • Sleep and dementia
  • Remember the relatives
  • Free lectures with news from the development and research projects