Helping to improve memories

Alzheimer’s Australia WA will today (Tuesday, 10 July 2012) launch an innovative program in Australia to help improve the memory of people with early to moderate dementia while enhancing their quality of life.

The Ashby Memory Method (AMM) is a non-drug program developed in Canada that uses activity, interaction and stimulation to help slow the progression of dementia symptoms.

The program, which uses techniques adapted from brain injury neuro-rehabilitation, has been shown in a number of research studies to improve dementia symptoms as well as the overall quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

The program was trialled by Alzheimer’s Australia WA for 12 months as part of a pilot study where participants with dementia undertook the personalised paper-based activities twice a week facilitated by a support worker.

Alzheimer’s Australia WA chief executive, Frank Schaper, said the results from the trial were overwhelmingly positive and the AMM program could be adapted for use in Australia.

“People with dementia who took part in the study reported improvements in recall, mood, self-esteem and confidence in their abilities,” Mr Schaper said.

“These factors are important indicators of the quality of life for people living with dementia.”

Alzheimer’s Australia WA has partnered with the Alzheimer’s Innovation Institute to make the AMM program available in Australia.

Alzheimer’s Innovation Institute chief executive, John Ashby, explained the method’s success was based on the brain’s ability to adapt through cognitive training.

“Dementia can be viewed as a slow forming brain injury and while therapeutic drugs can halt the progression of the disease, the effects only last for about a year before the person’s decline continues,” Mr Ashby said.

“With this program, we could see actual improvements in the quality of life of people with dementia and a slowing of the person’s decline for a longer period.”

The AMM program will be offered to complement other care and support services and Alzheimer’s Australia WA intends to partner with other aged care service providers to ensure it is available to their clients living with dementia.

For more information about the Ashby Memory Method, call the Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.

Alzheimer's Australia WA Ltd