Tackling dementia with football memories
A PROJECT which uses football to stimulate the minds of dementia sufferers could be extended abroad after producing "startling" results at home, a British university said yesterday.
Researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University said showing football memorabilia to men with the condition stimulated their memories in a "remarkable" way.
The study, which used match photographs and programmes as the basis for discussions, found that the men responded well to the memorabilia and were able to chat to others about their memories of players and games.
The university said interest in the pilot initiative has already been expressed in Canada, where researchers are considering using ice hockey as the basis for a similar study.
Professor Debbie Tolson, director of the university's Scottish Centre for Evidence Based Care of Older People, said: "This was a fascinating study that revealed impressive results.
"The men's lifelong interest in football connected them to their former selves and shared memories. There is very little provided specifically for men with dementia and this is a welcome and positive innovation.
"We have had a tremendous response to this research, with Canada considering adopting the same principle with ice hockey. At the moment, I am gathering together a group of researchers to mount a proposal to roll out the concept to other European countries."
The project has been conducted by the university together with the Scottish Football Museum, Alzheimer Scotland and member clubs of the Scottish Football Heritage Network.
Former Scotland manager Craig Brown has also given his backing to the scheme.
Tolson, a co-researcher on the project, said: "It's strange to think that every family who is tuned into the World Cup will know someone with dementia.
"Around the world there are nearly 25 million people with dementia, with an estimated 4.6 million new cases per year.
"By listening to men with dementia and family carers we have realised how little meaningful activity is provided for men that reflect their past passions.
"In collaboration with the National Scottish Football Museum and Alzheimer Scotland, preliminary work has indicated that football focused reminiscence using photographic images from local clubs and national collections is a potent trigger for former fans which connects men to their personal histories and past enjoyments.
"We have been delighted by the level of interest from academic and clinical researchers within Europe."
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