Brightwater’s Research into Dementia

Posted on Thursday, September 24, 2020

Brightwater’s dedicated Research Centre is built on shared ideas, expertise, passion and a commitment to making a difference. We collaborate with industry, academia and the community to enhance current knowledge and uncover solutions that make a real difference to people’s lives, including people living with Dementia. Our two recent dementia-related studies are:  

Food Additives and Severe Dementia in the Elderly: Effect on Agitation

Our Research Centre recently looked into the effects of additives found in the cordial drink served to clients and how the artificial colours and preservatives could be linked to adverse behavioural effects and hyperactivity. This study was undertaken by neurologist Dr Alexandra Seewann and Research Dietitian Melissa Hawksley.

Food additives have been linked to a range of adverse behaviour effects; however most studies have been focused on children. Our study looked into these effects on elderly people with dementia, and the changes in behaviour that occurred once the additive-rich cordial was replaced with an additive-free juice. The study showed that there was a significant decrease in agitation with the additive-free juice and since, Brightwater has switched to an additive-free cordial.

At Brightwater, cordial drinks are served to our clients to help increase fluid intake and thus prevent dehydration. It was important to switch to an additive-free cordial to ease management of this population in residential aged care facilities.

An intervention to support children and youth impacted by a parent with Younger Onset Dementia or an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)

This study is funded by LotteryWest and is being undertaken by Angelita Martini, Jeneva Ohan and Robyn Bett.

Currently, children and youth who have a parent diagnosed with an ABI or Younger Onset Dementia are not routinely provided with opportunities to develop an understanding of their parent’s diagnosis and support to manage the changing relationships within their family unit. Young people do not receive targeted emotional and developmental support and they are directed towards non-specific mental health services if found struggling to cope with their changing family situation.

The study will develop and implement a targeted intervention for these young people, offering a service where none currently exists. The intervention will be developed through a process of co-design with children, parents, families and health and education professionals, ensuring the intervention is targeted and sustainable.

These research studies are just a few examples of how the Brightwater Research Centre actively seeks to improve ways of supporting our clients with Dementia, their families and our staff.