Monthly Archives: November 2016

Thamesdown buses become dementia friendly

Thamesdown Transport is encouraging all its drivers to sign up to become Dementia Friends in a bid to make travelling on their buses easier and less stressful for passengers living with dementia.

The Dementia Friends initiative from the Alzheimer's Society aims to raise public awareness of the difficulties people living with dementia face, and how everyone in the community can help support them to make life a little easier.

Peter Oliver, commercial director at Thamesdown, said: “All of our drivers are encouraged to sign up to be a Dementia Friend. Having Dementia can make people feel isolated and apprehensive about going out and so our drivers can spot the signs and make getting the bus easier, whether that’s giving them the time they need to board or use their ticket, or identifying when someone might be confused due to their dementia and helping them get where they need to be.”

Thanks to the efforts of the company's driver instructors, Paul Banham and Phil Bailey, who have trained as Dementia Champions,  each bus driver will complete the dementia module as part of their customer training.

The training covers the common difficulties people with dementia experience, including memory loss, problems communicating and confusion about time and place, and what drivers should do in order to make travelling easier and a much less stressful experience.

It is brilliant to see Thamesdown Transport committing to raise awareness of dementia to their drivers and customer facing staff.

Bus drivers understanding a bit more about dementia will ease the difficulties people with dementia face, supporting them to travel and live independently for longer. This initiative is a major contribution to other work that is being developed in Swindon to ensure people with dementia are valued and included in their community.

Chris Atkinson 
Operations Manager South East for the Alzheimer's Society

So far 52 of the company's bus drivers have completed the training to become officially recognised as a Dementia Friend. They can be spotted by the blue flower badge they wear so why not watch out for them and say hello!


Mediterranean diet may help maintain your brain health

It is now well established that your diet has a major impact on your health and much has been done to raise awareness of the effect changing your diet can have on protecting your heart. But now a US study has highlighted the fact that food can also have a beneficial effect on keeping your brain healthy, potentially lowering the risk of dementia later in life.

The study set out to test the effects of a Mediterranean diet high in fish, lean meat, legumes, nuts, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats on 672 participants aged between 70 and 89 when they entered the study in 2004 at the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging.

Reporting on the study for Reuters, Carolyn Crist explains...

Participants described their diets in a survey and underwent tests for memory, executive function, language, visual-spatial skills and cognitive impairment. Researchers also used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure the cortical thickness of several regions of the brain.

“It suggests that a healthy dietary pattern and specific dietary components have impact on biomarkers of brain pathology,” senior researcher Rosebud Roberts of the Mayo Clinic’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center in Rochester, Minnesota, told Reuters Health by email.

Roberts and colleagues found that elderly patients with higher Mediterranean diet scores had higher cortical thickness in all lobes in the brain. Higher legume and fish intake, in particular, was associated with greater thickness.

The research team reported their findings on July 25 in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

The study didn’t track patients long enough to see whether they actually developed any cognitive problems later on, however.

Yian Gu, an epidemiologist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, pointed out to Reuters Health that the study can’t show whether diet actually causes less brain atrophy.

Gu wasn’t involved with the new study, but she and her team have found ties between the Mediterranean diet, brain volume and total brain matter in their own research.

But “these are observational studies, not clinical trials, so a causal relationship can’t be established,” Gu said.

"It’s possible, for example, that changes in brain structure result in poorer dietary habits", Gu said.

“As many people know, we don’t have a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, and there is a long period of time before onset. It’s important to find lifestyle factors that could prevent or delay the disease,” said Gu.

Although a doctor can’t prescribe a Mediterranean diet to elderly patients, it doesn’t hurt to follow it, Gu said.

“Specifically," noted Roberts, "a high intake of fish, vegetables and legumes are beneficial, whereas a high intake of simple sugars and carbohydrates may have adverse effects on the brain."