The development of “attention” (known in the West as mindfulness, full attention, attention to the present, full consciousness or other similar denominations) is based on an ancestral practice generally linked to the teachings of Eastern mystical schools (Buddhists, Taoists, Sufi and Eastern Christians). Today, these practices find echo and momentum in the West under the drive of very diverse forms and interests. Some of them follow a marked spirit of profit and/or personal benefit of the one who drives them. Others are advancing with a clear sense of solidarity by applying these techniques in the field of Health, complementing traditional treatments or creating specific treatments and exercises for a given disease and providing these investigations with the necessary scientific rigor that allows clear and unquestionable conclusions to be reached. This is the case of the “Project Atenec” developed by the “Asociación Canaria para el desarrollo de la salud a través de la atención” ( Canary Association for the development of health through attention) in its research applied to the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
Its studies in the development of specific programmes, carried out from 2012 to date, have achieved obvious positive results in the treatment of mild and moderate Alzheimer’s disease (Stages 3 and 4). The first practical investigations were carried out in geriatric establishments in the Canary Islands:
“We set a calendar of meetings once a week for a year, with personal work objectives. An initial evaluation was also made to determine the stress level of the gerocultores, their diet, if they slept well, etc. … since they are a very important part of the monitoring of the program and treatment. The first weeks of the programme did not exceed five minutes of attention to the present per day. The progress was very slow, and it seemed difficult to them. By six months there were those who were doing an hour a day. Those who reached those heights had overcome their problems with sleep, improved their level of calm and reported in writing that it had really changed their lives,” explain Esteban Rojas and Domingo Quintana Hernandez (PhD), two of the founders and creators of the project.
For Domingo Quintana it is interesting that his previous study did not produce a statistically significant involution. “All the pharmacological treatments show an improvement at six months, and then that improvement is losing points, they are losing effectiveness. In our experience and programme has achieved a consistency of two years … this is very important to highlight. There is no other treatment that reflects or demonstrates such positive responses,” he says. An experience that goes in the line of researchers like the American Lucia McBee, pioneer in the matter.
These studies and researches have evolved and today they have specific intervention programmes based on mindfulnes on Alzheimer’s disease. Scientific research, documents and exercise programmes are available free of charge and in solidarity at: www.laatencionalpresente.com/investigaciones/
More information on this topic can be found at: (Spanish) www.laatenciónalpresente.com
The Spanish Society of Geriatrics and Gerontology (SEGG) awarded Domingo Quintana Hernández, PhD, and his team, the Beltrán Báguena Prize for the best work published (“Mindfulness with adults with cognitive impairment”) in the Spanish Journal of Geriatrics and Gerontology, in the clinical areas, biological sciences and social and behavioural sciences.
The efficacy of Mindfulness-based Alzheimer’s stimulation (MBAS)
Neuropsychological intervention program based on mindfulness on Alzheimer’s disease.
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