Interacting with children: What are the benefits for people with dementia?

Research project: Intergenerational communication: what are the benefits when people living with dementia interact with young children?

Lead Investigator: Dr Suzanne Beeke

  • Institution: University College London
  • Grant type: PhD Studentship
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Amount: £80,183

Why did we fund this research?

Comments from our Research Network volunteers:

I fully support this project, having personal experience with the effect my Grandchildren had with service users of our Tuesday Club.

Project summary

The team want to understand whether spending time with young children can help to promote communication, enjoyment and wellbeing in people with dementia. 

The background

The wellbeing of people with dementia is affected by the illness but also by the environments in which they live and socialise. Social interaction and meaningful activity give us all a sense of well-being and quality of life, and this is the same for people with dementia.

A new model of intergenerational dementia care brings together young children and people with dementia to talk and interact is gaining interest in the UK. 

What does this project involve?

The research team want to gain an in depth understanding of current research in the area by reviewing published literature into intergenerational programmes for dementia. 

They will then investigate the interactions between people with dementia and children to find out if they stimulate communication by people with dementia. The team will compare these interactions with communication in typical care homes. 

People with dementia will be filmed in typical social settings, engaging with children or in a normal care home environment, to identify examples of engagement.

Dr Beeke will also carry out interviews with the participants family to understand their perception of intergenerational dementia care.


How will this project help people with dementia?

These results will illuminate an important but under-researched aspect of living well with dementia – access to communication opportunities and social interaction – and will help people with dementia to enjoy their lives. 

The research team could empower settings across the UK to create intergenerational opportunities for people with dementia. This can contribute to the growth of dementia-friendly communities and generations, where people with dementia are valued, understood and supported by people of all ages.

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