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New therapy delays dementia better than medication
Dementia has long since reached the status of a widespread disease in Germany with around 1.3 million people affected. In the course of the course of the disease, the sufferers increasingly suffer from confusion and forgetfulness, although independence is also increasingly disappearing. In the final stage, dementia patients are dependent on care around the clock because they can no longer manage their everyday lives on their own.
Despite intensive research, there is still no prospect of a cure for dementia. Taking medication can only significantly delay the course of the disease. The conventional medical treatment of dementia usually relies on the administration of drugs such as so-called cholinesterase inhibitors in order to save a little more time in the interests of the patients, in which they remain able to work for longer. Scientists at Friedrich-Alexander University in Erlangen are now reporting in the specialist magazine "BMC-Medicine" about a new program with which dementia and Alzheimer's diseases can be stopped much better than with the previous treatment approaches.
Group therapy works better than medication As part of their investigation, the scientists at Friedrich-Alexander University in Erlangen headed by Professor Elmar Gräßel tested the so-called MAKS program in numerous residents with signs of dementia in Bavarian nursing homes. The 129 study participants were divided into two groups of the same size, half of which were treated with conventional medicinal dementia therapy and the other seniors also completed the MAKS program. In order to determine the mental state of the test subjects, the researchers led by Prof. Gräßel tested in advance, during and after the treatment, the memory and the practical skills of the seniors. In addition, nurses assessed the general condition of the elderly. The treatment of the neurodegenerative disease with the help of the MAKS program showed significantly better results than the use of medication, according to Prof. Gräßel and colleagues.
Four pillars of the MAKS program against dementia The MAKS program for the therapeutic treatment of Alzheimer's and dementia is based on four different pillars that complement each other positively and are said to result in a significant delay in dementia diseases. As part of the current study, dementia patients took part in special two-hour group therapies six days a week, in which motor stimulation (M), everyday activities (A), cognitive stimulation (K) and spiritual stimulation (S) were in the foreground. Motor stimulation means balance exercises that are trained through physical exercise. For example, dementia patients go bowling together. In everyday activities, group therapy focused on activities such as cooking, craft activities or gardening. The cognitive stimulation took place, for example, through puzzles or puzzles. The spiritual stimulation consisted of at least ten minutes a day during which the patients discussed topics such as happiness and sang songs together.
Dementia delayed by at least one year According to researchers at the University of Erlangen, the 12-month MAKS therapy showed clear advantages compared to drug treatment. Brain performance among the study participants in the MAKS group did not decrease further, while the performance of the control group on the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS) was rated significantly worse after one year of study. MAKS patients also coped much better in everyday life than the other test subjects, according to Prof. Gräßle and colleagues. In order to enable an objective assessment, it was not revealed in the control after six and twelve months of study whether the subjects belonged to the MAKS group or not. In the subsequent evaluation, however, the researchers found that the study participants in the control group had significantly reduced, particularly in the second half of the study, while the memory performance in the MAKS group remained almost unchanged. In addition, not only had the cognitive abilities of MAKS patients remained constant, but also the mood of the elderly had increased and their social behavior had improved, explained Prof. Gräßel.
According to the study leader, the effects achieved with MAKS therapy have also surpassed the most effective Alzheimer's and dementia drugs to date. For example, MAKS therapy delays the course of a dementia disease by at least twelve months, whereas with the help of medication, only a delay of six months can be assumed, explained the researchers at the University of Erlangen. The MAKS program may have an effect even longer, but this has yet to be investigated in future studies, according to Prof. Gräßel and colleagues. (fp)
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