Leading Australian psychogeriatrician Professor Henry Brodaty AO will present his cuttingedgefindings on new approaches to treating people with dementia at a Conference in Perththis month.
Professor Brodaty and his team at the Primary Dementia Collaborative Research Centre atthe University of NSW have been studying the benefits of psychosocial therapies in treatingcommon dementia behaviours such as agitation and aggression.
Professor Brodaty said the study found strong evidence supporting the use of non-drug therapies as the first step in alleviating certain behavioural and psychological symptoms in people with dementia before the use of medication.
The team found that non-drug therapies such as person-centred care and aromatherapy canbe effective.
"In one study, the introduction of psychosocial therapies over four months significantlyreduced the agitation levels of residents with dementia in a care facility," Professor Brodatysaid.
He stressed that while drug treatments still have a place in the overall management ofbehavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia, the evidence for their use is still limitedand the benefits and adverse effect must be carefully weighed.
"Certain medication such as antipsychotic drugs can have side effects associated with a morerapid cognitive decline, an increased risk of stroke and increased mortality," he said.Professor Brodaty will share his findings at Alzheimer's Australia WA's Transforming Lives2009 Symposium in Perth on 14 and 15 August.
The Symposium will bring together doctors, nurses and health and aged-care professionalswho will hear about the latest research and innovation in dementia care. Topics coveredinclude environmental design and dementia, dance therapy in dementia care and how lighttherapy can help treat sleep disorders in people with dementia.
Frank Schaper, Chief Executive of the organising body, Alzheimer's Australia WA, said thesymposium is designed to challenge medical and health professionals who provide services topeople with dementia to be creative, flexible and to think beyond the conventional caremodels.
"Dementia is now the fourth leading cause of death in Australia and affects one in threepeople over the age of 65. We need to ensure the health system is ready to meet thechallenge of the predicted dementia epidemic," Mr Schaper said.Event: Transforming Lives 2009 Symposium
Date/Time: 14 to 15 August 2009
Venue: Empyrean Function Centre
More info: www.transforminglives2009.com.au or call (08) 9388 2800
In Western Australia, 22,000 people have Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementiaand this figure is predicted to rise to 80,000 within 40 years. Described by Access Economicsas a nation-wide epidemic, dementia is the fourth leading cause of death in Australia.Dementia is not a normal part of ageing. It can happen to anybody, but it is more commonafter the age of 65. However, there are currently more than 10,000 people in Australia whohave developed dementia before the age of 65.