A world-first study is about to take place in Perth to find out if cannabis can improve the quality of life of people with dementia.
Aged care facilities are hoping it will help the people they look after lead happier lives, with less medication.
The University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Health Research is looking for candidates for its study, aimed at relieving symptoms that not only affect patients but also their families and loved ones.
Growing in a laboratory in Slovenia is a cannabis crop that researchers will test on patients to see if it reduces side effects of dementia such as agitation and aggression.
The cannabis plants are being turned into a mouth spray to make it easier for older people to ingest.
The treatment may also help increase the appetite of dementia patients.
The clinical trial will be held over a 14 month period and involve 50 participants aged 65 years and older with mild dementia who currently live in an accredited residential aged care facility.
Potential game changer
Bicton grandmother Phyllis Grlusich has always been against illicit drugs, but she is in the early stages of dementia and says the opportunity to take part in the study was too enticing.
“She was pretty much up for it straight away, and I think that’s the thing – if we can help people down the track then (the study) needs people like mum,” Phyllis’ son Wayne said.
If Perth researchers prove cannabis can help those with dementia, it will be a global game changer.
About 50 million people around the world have dementia, with almost half a million here in Australia.
The number of Australians with dementia is expected to double in the next 40 years.