Group activities such as baking, gardening and music could improve symptoms for dementia sufferers, a study suggests.
The researchers analysed 15 trials on cognitive stimulation in 718 people with mild to moderate dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
About half of the participants received cognitive stimulation treatment (CST), involving structured activities - such as music gardening and baking - in small groups of four or five, several times a week.
CST treatment is designed to stimulate and engage dementia patients while providing the social benefits of a group.
The patients who received CST showed improvements in memory, thinking and concentration for up to three months after completion of the treatment.
However, there was no evidence to suggest an improvement in the mood of the patients or their ability to function independently.
Professor Bob Woods of Bangor University, who led the study, explained the difference between CST and repetitive ‘brain-training’ exercises.
He said, as reported in the Daily Mail: “This is not doing the same exercises over and over again by themselves.”
He added: “There might be a session out of 14 which is devoted to word games and puzzles, and other sessions for reminiscing or doing something practical like baking a cake or gardening.”
Dr Anne Corbett, Research Manager at Alzheimer's Society, said in a statement: "This significant review confirms that people with dementia respond positively to individual, person-centred care. By providing a range of creative and stimulating activities, it is possible to improve people’s quality of life.
"We now need to understand whether the benefits continue over time and whether other types of support have similar benefits. There are 750,000 people living with dementia in the UK; nowhere near enough support is provided to meet their needs. Dementia research is also drastically underfunded. We must invest now."
Below outlines a number of studies conducted over recent months that have indicated that lifestyle changes can have a positive impact on the treatment of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.