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Fernhill House welcomes artificial intelligence Alzheimer’s study
New research showing artificial intelligence can detect Alzheimer’s brain changes almost a decade before symptoms emerge has been welcomed by the manager of Fernhill House.   

The study, carried out at the University of Bari in Italy, saw researchers develop an algorithm which can discern structural changes in the brain caused by the neurodegenerative disease.   

And while there is currently no cure, an earlier diagnosis means that if taken earlier mitigating drugs could be more effective, enabling sufferers to slow the progression of the disease.   

The news has been greeted as a positive step in the fight to minimise the impact of Alzheimer’s by Peta Mandleberg, manager of Fernhill House which has a vibrant approach to helping people living with this and other forms of dementia.      

“This is another step forward in the quest to improve the lives of elderly people. We have a vibrant and innovative approach to living in later life – with a packed programme of activities and outings and unusual facilities such as an indoor potting shed, a ‘real’ pub, a shop and 1950s and 60s themed games and staff dressed casually in vintage clothes.   

“We also have a beautifully equipped children’s nursery populated with lifelike dolls which residents can ‘adopt’. This doll therapy can be a very powerful way of helping people with dementia manage their condition – with some very touching outcomes.”       

The AI was taught to distinguish between the MRI scans of healthy brains and those containing sticky beta amyloid plaques which are present in Alzheimer’s sufferers. It successfully differentiated between the two sorts of brain with 86 per cent accuracy and could tell the difference between the healthy brains and those with a mild cognitive impairment and who then went on to develop Alzheimer’s within two and a half to nine years with 84 per cent accuracy.   

The research team is now planning to trial the AI system with other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s.   

 *  Claude Bronckaerts is among those enjoying Fernhill House’s innovative approach to living with dementia. A Belgian who speaks eight languages, he spends some time every day in the home's own pub! 

Worcester racegoers net a hat-trick of wins 
Fernhill House residents spent a nail biting day at Worcester Races this month – with three wins adding extra adrenalin to the action packed trip.   

In typical British sporting style, racegoers were equipped with rugs in case the wind swept across the racetrack and shades should the sun dazzle.   

The day out was one of the regular outings on offer at Fernhill House, with a visit to Weston-super-Mare for fish and chips on the seafront, a picnic in the park and a trip to a stately home among recent adventures.   

Residents have also enjoyed racing, shooting and Wimbledon themed events at Fernhill House itself – with the cinema providing visual entertainment while the award winning chef prepares appropriate themed meals in the bistro. 

Residents poised to explore the village in bicycle rickshaw
Fernhill House residents are looking forward to getting out and about in an unusual way - on a bicycle rickshaw!   

The home is running a series of fun fundraising activities to buy the £6,500 vehicle – also known as a trishaw – starting with a sweepstake to predict the winner of this season’s Strictly Come Dancing competition.   

Home manager Peta Mandleberg, whose colleagues came up with the idea, explained: “We’re all about having fun here and living our lives to the full. We often run days out – to the beach, the races, to stately homes – and have drinks, barbecues and musical events.   

“We’ve recently acquired an old fashioned ice cream bicycle and that gave us the idea that it would be fun for the residents to sit in the side car and be cycled around the grounds and the village – rather like Wallace and Gromit but with slightly less Wensleydale.”   

The idea of enabling residents to take to the nearby highways and byways under pedal power was mooted after staff read about a similar scheme launched in progressive Denmark – whose fun and independent approach to retirement living has been a model for Fernhill House.   

That project, Cycling without Age, has now spread to more than 30 other countries where some 1,500 trishaws are in use, some of which have elderly friendly features such as lifts, safety belts and specially designed blankets.  

All money raised will be matched by the home’s owners Majesticare.  

* Fernhill House's ice cream bicycle which inspired the trishaw idea

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside, even in the rain
It wouldn’t be an English summer without spending a drizzly day at the beach shivering while determinedly eating fish and chips on the seafront.   

And to prove that we are indeed in England and that the weather is at times inclement, Fernhill House residents braved the elements for a trip to Weston-super-Mare to indulge in one of the nation’s favourite culinary experiences!   

Dressed both for November frosts and March gales and in sunhats in the vain hope that the yellow globe in the sky would actually make an appearance, they nobly tucked into their fried delicacies while watching the donkeys miserably plying their trade along the muddy drizzly shoreline.   

The outing will hopefully be repeated on a more tropical occasion.

Massage and sound therapy has become a weekly treat
A pilot session of massage and sound therapy by a local holistic therapist has proved so popular it has become a weekly highlight at Fernhill House.   

Michelle Beagley spends three hours every Tuesday in the home, offering treatments to residents and staff.   

While the soothing and physically beneficial effects of massage are well documented, sound therapy is a lesser known practice – which involves the use of relaxing or stimulating sounds such as drums, bells, bowls and the human voice to induce calm and rebalance the body’s energy.   

Massage and sound therapy are just some of the therapeutic treatments available at Fernhill House. Hot towel pampering, which involves a hand massage and essential oils, manicures, meditation and reiki are among the treatments available – with the hairdressing salon open to those living with dementia in the wider community.   

All therapists are dementia trained, ensuring a relaxing experience as well as a comfortable space for non-residents to have their hair styled.     * Residents can relax in a ‘sound bath’ at Fernhill House