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John Stamos Still Wants to Be a Beach Boy

TV star hosts Capitol July 4th concert and plays drums with the iconic band

woman chatting with her daughter in a cafe
A study found that one-on-one interaction lessened agitation levels for dementia patients.
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Spending even less than 10 minutes a day chatting with those who have dementia can substantially improve their quality of life, according to new research. Previous studies indicate that many dementia patients in nursing homes enjoy no more than two minutes of social interaction daily.

The team that led the new study, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, evaluated the effects of 60 minutes of conversation a week — about 8½ minutes a day — on dementia patients. Researchers found that one-on-one interaction lessened the dementia patients' agitation levels and even any pain they were experiencing. As a result, researchers suggest that nursing homes implement a more personalized approach when it comes to their residents.

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The research team, led by the University of Exeter, King's College London, and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, studied 847 people with dementia in 69 care homes in England over a nine-month period.

Lead researcher Clive Ballard of the University of Exeter medical school told the BBC: "Often there's a lot of nihilism around dementia, that people think that it's really awful, which it is, but think there's nothing you can do about it. I think what this is suggesting is that actually relatively simple things, if implemented robustly, can actually make a real difference to people's quality of life."

John Stamos to host  'A Capitol Fourth'
John Stamos at the "Scream Queens" press conference on Oct. 7, 2016, in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Vera Anderson/Getty Images

He said a person-centered approach — which is about getting to know each patient as an individual — is also cost-effective.

As part of the study, those caring for dementia patients were trained to be better communicators. They were taught how to take a greater interest in their patients by questioning them about their hobbies and family members. The result was an improvement in quality of life, with the greatest benefits seen among those with moderately severe dementia.

The number of people with dementia worldwide is currently estimated at 47 million and is projected to rise to 75 million by 2030, according to the World Health Organization.

Previous research has also emphasized the importance of social connections when it comes to healthy aging. For example, a study published in late 2017 linked marriage with a decreased risk of dementia. That study, which involved more than 800,000 people worldwide, found that those who never marry have a 42 percent higher risk of developing dementia in comparison to married couples, after adjusting for age- and sex-related risk factors. Those who have been widowed are also at greater risk, with a 20 percent higher chance of dementia.

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To ward off dementia, experts say you should walk more, get at least seven to eight hours of sleep a night and, again, build a social network that includes a close circle of friends and family members.

When John Stamos struts onto the stage July 4th as host of the annual star-studded PBS concert "A Capitol Fourth" — then eases in behind a drum set to pull double duty with the Beach Boys — his younger self will be rocking out with him.  

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As the “proud over-50-er” tells it, it was 30 years ago at another July Fourth concert in the nation's capital that the then-General Hospital star first subbed in with his all-time favorite band. The guest jam, Stamos says, fulfilled a childhood dream launched by an “eight-track of [the album] Endless Summer.” For years, he confesses, he’d nurtured a fantasy: He’d be sitting in the audience, things would go quiet, then “Mike Love comes out and says, ‘Our drummer broke his finger, and does anyone in the audience know these songs?’ And I would run up …”

After a decadeslong relationship with the band, Stamos most recently drummed for them on a grueling leg of their European tour. (“These guys are 75, and they’re baring me out there. … It’s inspiring.”) Then, as always, Stamos retains a boyish wonder at his good luck, never failing “to say thank you for letting me tag along with you” every time the Boys invite him aboard the bus … or make a stop for vegetarian chili. “Food is a big deal” on the tour, he notes. 

Lately, if life has a full-circle quality for the actor-musician-producer (who recently grew out his sideburns to revisit his role as Uncle Jesse for Netflix’s series Fuller House), he credits two things. First, knowing the value of experience — “learning to pinpoint the mistakes you’ve made and how to learn from them” — and second, hewing to the lessons of daily decency passed along by his father, a restaurant owner of Greek descent. “He always stressed focusing on the micro transactions,” Stamos says, referring to the smaller, human moments that ultimately build a reputation or shade a life. With those life lessons under his narrow-waist belt at age 54, he says, “It feels like it’s all coming back to me.” 

That kind of decency, he adds, “is at an all-time low today,” citing everything from the recent bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England (he and the Beach Boys arrived in the city just hours before the tragedy), to the growing “discord” in our country over the past year. And while he’s careful not to oversimplify — “I don’t want people saying, ‘Stamos says get together and sing a song, and everything’s fine,’” — he firmly, if somewhat sheepishly, believes that music can heal. 

“This is why I wanted to do this special,” he says, praising a lineup that’s “as diverse as our country.” Indeed, country crooner Kellie Pickler, Grammy-nominated gospel artist Yolanda Adams, Motown stars The Four Tops, and Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi of the Blues Brothers will perform, among many others. The concert airs from 8 to 9:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, July 4, on PBS stations.

“I think any chance we get to come together and celebrate our country, no matter where we’re coming from, is important,” Stamos says. “I’m not very political, and I don’t talk about it much, but I know that getting together and singing and dancing and celebrating America is a damn good place to start.” 

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