New Finding: Dementia Patients Retain Learning Abilities!

New Finding: Dementia Patients Retain Learning Abilities!

Dementia is a brain disorder that causes memory, thinking, and behaviour issues. It is not a specific disease but a collection of symptoms caused by many brain problems. Misconceptions regarding dementia still exists. And this leads people to believe that people suffering from the disease lose all cognitive faculties. Even the ability to learn new skills. 

However, new research shows that people with dementia can learn new skills. This study suggests they can focus and learn better when they are interested in something. And this opens up exciting possibilities for creating meaningful activities that cater to their interests and abilities. Let’s learn more about this study!

What Is This Study About?

In a recent doctoral thesis presented at Linköping University, Sweden, Elias Ingebrand revealed groundbreaking findings that challenge the common belief that people with dementia become empty shells. 

In a study conducted by Elias Ingebrand at Linköping University, ten individuals with dementia, including eight living in care facilities, were introduced to computer tablets for the first time in their lives. Surprisingly, the tablets sparked their curiosity.

The study lasted for 4 to 6 weeks, during which participants, despite experiencing significant memory decline, showed gradual improvement in independently using the tablets. 

The research suggests that the body may retain the memory of the movements needed to operate the device. Even when the ability to verbally express it is lost. The study highlights the importance of sparking interest to promote learning and engagement in people with dementia.

How Did The Study Progress?

During the study, there were notable examples of positive outcomes. For instance, a woman with a background in orienteering started using the tablet to check competition results on her own. 

Similarly, a man who had previously been restless and aggressive learned to navigate to the Open Archive of SVT, the Swedish public television broadcaster. Staff members observed a remarkable change in him, as he would sit calmly and attentively for extended periods, something they had never seen in him before. 

These instances illustrate the potential of tablet use to bring positive changes in behaviour and engagement for people with dementia.

Prior to this study, there has been no research on collaboration between individuals with dementia. But according to Elias Ingebrand, this study demonstrates that learning can occur without specific instructions, and the results can be directly applied in dementia care settings. This suggests that individuals with dementia can naturally engage in learning experiences. Elias Ingebrand believes that while the study specifically focused on computer tablets, its findings have broader implications for other forms of learning as well. 

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