Dementia Community Tilburg University
In our aging society, dementia is a growing public health priority, devastating individuals’ cognition, well-being and independence. By 2035 dementia will overtake other diseases in terms of burden (financial, health) not only in the Netherlands but also worldwide. The Dutch National Dementia Strategy (2021-2030) underlines this rising need and aims to (quote): “help persons with dementia and their loved ones continue to function as valuable members of society and receive appropriate support and care”.
At the same time, one of the five missions of the national Knowledge and Innovation Covenant 2020-2023 (KIC) is to increase the quality of life of people with dementia by 25% by 2030. KIC acknowledges the need for a transition from traditional (complaint-oriented) to solution-oriented care. This focus on the health and well-being of both the person living with dementia and their informal caregiver will ensure that they can age as successfully as possible while remaining directly interactive with society.
Dementia Community Tilburg University
Researchers from different departments of Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences are building an open community for dementia research at Tilburg University (DeCo). We use a holistic, longitudinal framework to study people with all forms of dementia, their immediate social environment and their place in society.
Our current work focuses on two broad research fields, namely: (a) early diagnosis using sensitive assessment tools to explore the progression of dementia in the individual over time and, (b) innovations designed to support and enhance the quality of life of people living with dementia, their informal and formal caregivers as the disease progresses.
What drives our work
As a multi-disciplinary group, members vary in research scope, approach, expertise, and methods applied. We have one common aim, namely: to improve the lives of people living with dementia, their caregivers and relatives. We hope to do this by systematically studying the interplay between individual differences in disease progression and the social dynamics involved. We are specifically interested in risk and protective factors that account for between-person differences and within-person changes in mental health, well-being, and life satisfaction of persons living with dementia and their social network.
Why we focus on multi-disciplinary research
Dementia is not only a complex global health challenge, its course is also very heterogeneous. Understanding why and how one person deteriorates rapidly while another does not will require research from different perspectives, angles, topics, methodologies, and analyses. We are convinced that multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary research conducted by people with different scientific backgrounds, in collaboration with health care professionals, entrepreneurs, governmental bodies and with the people directly affected by the different forms of dementia is crucial. This research will not only move the scientific field forward but hopefully improve the quality of life and reduce the widespread and multifaceted burden dementia currently has on our society.
Our community members are well connected to clinical practice and have ongoing collaborations with several geriatric departments and institutions, local stakeholders and care organizations. To make our research even more efficient, clients/patients, relatives, health care providers, and trainees work with members of our community in order to both initiate new projects and/or help with ongoing research. The DeCo fosters the initiation of new collaborative networks both within and outside the university while at the same time supports and maintains existing connections.
Joining the community
We are an open community and aim to inspire each other. If you are interested in studying dementia from a holistic, longitudinal perspective considering the patients, their social environment and their place in society, please contact one of the following DeCo coordinators.
Ruth MarkDepartment of Cognitive Neuropsychology
Dr. Ruth Mark’s expertise is on pathological aging and most of her recent work focuses on people with Alzheimer’s dementia and their informal (family) caregivers. Exploring how individuals progress from diagnosis to the end of the lifespan, the risk and protective factors and especially the effect of the social environment is what interests her the most.
Dr. ing Liselore Snaphaan is a clinical and experimental neuroscientist, leading the dementia research program “Innovate Dementia” at Tranzo Department and GGz Eindhoven. In this longitudinal program people living with dementia collaborate with different stakeholders to enhance user-based innovative solutions that support them in living at home.
Yvonne BrehmerDevelopmental Psychology
Prof. dr. Yvonne Brehmer’s expertise is on normative and healthy older adults from a lifespan approach. She is an experimental cognitive psychologist interested in predictors and neural correlates of individual differences in intra-individual changes and conducted large scale training and intervention studies.
Prof. dr. Eveline Wouters has a medical background. Her expertise is on acceptance and implementation of technology in the context of health care for persons with chronic diseases, studied from the perspective of involved stakeholders, for example sensor wearables to understand challenging behavior in advanced stages of dementia.
The Herbert Simon Research Institute for Health, Well-being, and Adaptiveness is a research center devoted to carrying out excellent, state of the art research in order to contribute to healthy and resilient people. We have selected three themes, which involve the collaboration between various Departments and address actual themes in need of both fundamental and applied research.