We are currently involved in 13 research projects ranging in topic from lifestyle and risk factors associated with dementia to caregiving – Outline of current research
At ASI our range of research partners includes UCD, NUIG, DCU and Trinity. We also partner in research with charities including the Irish Cancer Society, Irish Heart Foundation and Diabetes Ireland.
We have published a new policy position paper ‘Dementia and Loneliness’ that reflects the experiences of loneliness for people living with dementia, how loneliness can be attributed to a lack of supports and services, and the public awareness and understanding of dementia.
In addition to a literature review, interviews were conducted with individuals over the age of 55 living at home with a dementia diagnosis to understand whether people living with dementia felt lonely as their lives progressed and their conditions worsened.
The report indicates that loneliness is not necessarily caused by being alone, but by being without some definite needed relationship or set of relationships or indeed the availability of local supports and services. The study, in particular, found that access to home care support and public nurses enabled families to manage living life with dementia and by the same token, however, the difficulties of securing these supports were a source of anxiety, frustration, and loneliness.
A study to assess the health & wellbeing of spousal carers of people with dementia in Ireland
In 2013 The Alzheimer Society of Ireland co-funded a three year research project on the wellbeing of dementia spousal carers. De-Stress is the largest study of its kind in Ireland to explore the health and wellbeing of family carers of people with dementia. To carry out the study, researchers at Trinity College Dublin surveyed more than 200 people who were caring for their spouse with dementia.
What did we find?
Nearly half of the carers in the study spent all of their waking time looking after their spouse, and 15% had given up their jobs in order to care for their spouse.
Most of the carers took prescribed medicines. Those who had more chronic health conditions (such as arthritis, hypertension or diabetes) were more likely to have high burden and lower quality of life.
Depression and anxiety were common among family carers, and around a third of participants had difficulty with at least one core caring activity, such as managing money, shopping for or preparing food or managing appointments.
Carers experience a decline in cognitive functions (such as attention and ability to plan) over a one-year period, but this was not linked to their stress levels or a genetic susceptibility to developing Alzheimer Disease.
What does the De-Stress study tell us?
The De-Stress report suggests that the needs of family carers in Ireland should be more thoroughly assessed and addressed as a matter of urgency. The study was supported by the Health Research Board, the Alzheimer Society of Ireland and the Medical Research Charities Group.
The research, which was carried out by Ipsos MRBI and commissioned by Nutricia Advanced Medical Nutrition and ASI, found that the difficulties people with dementia are experiencing include the person forgetting to eat (58%), forgetting they have eaten and eating again (54%), finding it difficult to finish meals (51%) and being too tired to eat (36%).
Following on from the research, a new booklet has been developed for families and carers in Ireland called Eating well with Dementia. This booklet, which was launched in September 2017, offers practical tips and helps families and carers to understand how dementia can affect a person’s appetite and experience with food.
The Social Club Model of Dementia Care
This 2008 research report documents the emerging role, function and operation of the Alzheimer Society’s social club model.