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Researchers focus on dementia patients

Daily life for people with dementia will be in focus when psychologists, social scientists, and linguistic researchers create a new research centre. The joy was palpable when their programme application gained a hearing at the Riksbankens Jubileumsfond. The centre will be the only one of its kind in Sweden.

“Really dazed, and really happy,” was the comment from Lars-Christer Hydén when the notification came from the RJ. He is a professor in social psychology at the Department of Medical and Health Sciences (IMH) and the man behind the application. For years, he has been researching such things as how people with dementia can communicate with their surroundings when they lose language ability.

Now, researchers from IMH, the Department of Culture and Communication (IKK), and the National Institute for the Study of Ageing and Later Life (NISAL) will work together in the new centre, established with the help of money from the RJ. The 34 million SEK (3.6 million EUR) will support the programme for six years. Linda Örulv and Eleonor Antelius, with backgrounds in communication research, and Kristin Zeiler, an ethicist, will come from IMH; the linguists Jan Anward and Charlotta Pleijert, specialising in dialogue research, will come from IKK; and Catharina Nord, Eva Jeppson-Grassman, and Annika Taghizadeh Larsson, who have researched the role of civil society, will come from NISAL (formerly Tema Äldre).

“Age-related dementia, of which Alzheimers is the biggest, is well investigated from a purely medical standpoint,” Hydén says. “But we know remarkably little about how people with dementia live with their illness alongside family and friends.

“On the other hand, family members of people with dementia have been studied quite a bit. Now we’re switching focus onto people with dementia themselves, and their perspectives. This is new.”

Nowadays it is not unusual for older people to live in good physical health for years with a diagnosis of dementia. But this problem is increasing with an ageing population around the world. Researchers at LiU are already collaborating with another Swedish research group at Karolinska Institutet, as well as internationally with researchers in England, the USA, and Canada.

The LiU researchers’ programme application was one of two that went all the way through the RJ selection process, which began with some 15 applications in February.

Therese Winder 2010-11-04

Page manager: therese.winder@liu.se
Last updated: 2010-11-04