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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 July, 2004, 11:24 GMT 12:24 UK
Alzheimer's sufferers' exercise
Elderly man
Dementia currently affects over 750,000 people in the UK
Singing can help Alzheimer's sufferers' minds stay active, says a charity about to introduce a special exercise plan to people with severe memory loss.

The west Berkshire branch of the Alzheimer's Society believes social activities such as poetry and dance can reduce the chance of depression.

It is now planning to pilot a "Brain and Body" exercise project in Newbury, Burghfield Common and Thatcham.

More than 750,000 people in the UK are affected by dementia.

'Difficult to measure'

Of those, approximately 18,000 are under the age of 65.

Chreanne Montgomery-Smith, support worker for west Berkshire branch of the Alzheimer's Society, believes art- based activities are "good therapy".

She said: "It is increasingly thought so - in America too - that very good neurological exercise is embedded in social activities.

"Singing has a very positive affect on the memory and brain function.

"The worse thing is collecting problems such as frustration, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem."

Dementia affects one person in 20 over the age of 65 and one person in five over the age of 80.

The number of people with dementia is steadily increasing, according to the Alzheimer's Society.

Dr Nicholas Bannan, of Reading University, described the developments in treatment as "interesting".

He said: "The pilots that were carried out last year, I think, illustrated that on one hand - through group singing - we can build sort of bridges between people suffering with dementia and their carers, and the carers they would have looking after them.

"However, it is very difficult to measure, that is something we would like to consider for future research."

The public and other charities have been invited to a meeting about the programme at St Nicholas Church Hall in Newbury on Thursday.

UK lags on Alzheimer's care
04 Jun 04  |  Health

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