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Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psychology of Older People

Dementia Services Development Centre Wales,

Bangor University, UK




Psychosocial approaches to dementia: making a difference?

Bob Woods, Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psychology of Older People, Bangor University

Across the world, around 50 million people are living with dementia, with a similar number of family members and friends involved in providing care and support. Alzheimer Disease International estimate the numbers affected will double every twenty years. For over 40 years, psychological approaches to enhancing function and quality of life for people living with dementia have been developed, evaluated and, to a variable extent, implemented. Approaches such as cognitive stimulation, cognitive behaviour therapy for anxiety and low mood, reminiscence work and cognitive rehabilitation have a growing evidence-base, as do psychological interventions for family care-givers. There is also growing evidence that psychological approaches in care homes may improve quality of life for residents with dementia. These approaches offer a viable alternative and complement to pharmacological interventions. It is essential that person-centred values and principles are embedded in these approaches, offering individuality, dignity, respect and the opportunity to live as well as possible to all those affected.






Bob Woods has been a practitioner and researcher in the dementia care field in the UK for over 40 years. He trained and worked initially as a clinical psychologist in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, subsequently combining extensive clinical work with older people with academic appointments at the Institute of Psychiatry, London and University College London. From 1996 to his retirement in 2017, he was Professor of Clinical Psychology of Older People at Bangor University, Wales where he was Director of the Dementia Services Development Centre Wales. His research has involved the systematic development of evidence-based psychosocial interventions for people with dementia and their care-givers, including cognitive stimulation, reminiscence and life review and cognitive rehabilitation. His publications include practical manuals for family carers and care-workers as well as text-books and over 200 peer reviewed journal papers. He is an Ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society, and a member of the Medical & Scientific Advisory Panels for Alzheimer’s Europe and Alzheimer’s Disease International.