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Funding award for research into exercise benefits for people with dementia

An ARC East Midlands PhD researcher’s study into the benefits of exercise for people with dementia has received a funding award from the Alzheimer's Society.

Annabelle Long had originally planned to produce a toolkit which could be used in the community to help people design and set up exercise classes for older people living with dementia.

She had planned to look at what these classes should look like and what components should be included by observing and taking part in exercise classes. Annabelle had also hoped to form a focus group and discuss with the attendees which parts of the class they found most beneficial.

However, COVID-19 meant fewer opportunities for her to observe face-to-face classes before the completion of her project, so she re-focussed her study and will look instead at the benefits of face-to-face classes compared to online exercise sessions.

Annabelle said: “I now plan to observe online groups and run online focus groups and then compare it with the data gathered from my original studies. I will try to provide an argument as to whether online classes can be successfully delivered to people living with dementia and if they maintain the benefits they were getting from face-to-face classes, or whether classes need to return to face-to-face delivery for people with dementia when appropriate.”

Annabelle had applied for an Alzheimer's Clinical Training Fellowship just before she started her PhD to complement her ARC funding, but decisions around funding awards were delayed until the full extent of the impact of COVID-19 was known. Alzheimer's Society, like many charities, relies heavily on donations and fundraising from events such as the London Marathon, which were cancelled due to the pandemic.

Annabelle was therefore delighted when she received confirmation recently that her application for a Clinical Training Fellowship had been accepted, providing her with funding of just over £124,000 for the remainder of her PhD.

She said: “I feel extremely grateful and lucky in the current environment that the Alzheimer's Society saw the potential in both me and the project to fund me through my PhD and look forward to collaborating with them as the project moves forward.”

Published on: 14 Jul 2021