Could a lively bunch of three- and four-year-olds be the surprising key to tackling dementia?
In a bold new experiment, the first of its kind in the UK, a group of toddlers head to a dementia day-care centre to share three days of time and activities with adults in their 70s and 80s. Overseen by expert psychologists from Bangor University, north Wales, this ambitious project tests if children might be the secret weapon in helping fight the sometimes crippling effects of dementia.
Despite an age gap of eight decades, the two groups have one thing in common, they both ordinarily receive day-care support. But for the adults there is one significant difference – each person has a formal diagnosis of dementia or significant memory loss. The latest research reveals that one in every three children born this year in the UK will later develop a form of dementia, for which there is currently no cure. Can these little kids crack the way we all deal with dementia? Can they find the person behind the diagnosis?
The psychologists set a series of specially designed activities to see if the young children can bring the adults back from their memory loss. Using rigged cameras at the centre in Colwyn Bay, they observe every moment of this unique social experiment unfold.
They tap into the passions of the adults’ younger years: a vintage-car ride for chauffer David alongside four-year-old Leo, song for musicals star Iris and talk of the beautiful game for a former footballer. The aim is to trigger memories and good moments but not all older participants are immediately convinced.