Dr Simon Duff, forensic psychologist, probed the impacts of hypnosis on people having dementia and then compared the treatment to mainstream health-care methods. Also, he tried to see how hypnosis compared to a type of group therapy in which participants were encouraged to discuss news and current affairs.
The study indicated that people living with dementia who had received hypnosis therapy showed an improvement in concentration, memory and socialisation compared to the other two treatment groups. In fact, hypnosis also improved relaxation, motivation and daily living activities.
"Over a nine month period of weekly sessions, it became clear that the participants attending the discussion group remained the same throughout. The group who received 'treatment as usual' showed a small decline over the assessment period, yet those having regular hypnosis sessions showed real improvement across all of the areas that we looked at," said Duff.
He added: "Participants who are aware of the onset of dementia may become depressed and anxious at their gradual loss of cognitive ability and so hypnosis - which is a tool for relaxation - can really help the mind concentrate on positive activity like socialisation."
Now scientists will conduct further research to establish whether hypnosis maintains its effects on dementia over longer periods of time as the illness progresses.
Dr Dan Nightingale, co-author of the research and leading dementia consultant at the Abacus Clinic in Newark, added: "Evidence to date has shown that we can enhance the quality of life for people living with dementia through the correct use of hypnosis. We have now developed a course for clinicians who wish to incorporate hypnosis into health care plans."