Alzheimer's sufferers benefit as much from community activities and trips to the seaside as from drugs, according to a leading US expert.
Dr John Zeisel says that dependence on medication and leaving sufferers in care homes is outdated and often damaging.
The president of Hearthstone Alzheimer Care, which provides non-pharmacological treatment for people with dementia, was speaking at the Cheltenham Science Festival.
He said: "We need a complete sea change in attitudes towards Alzheimer's if we are to even begin to respond to this growing health crisis, which is expected to double in the UK alone within a generation.
"My own research and practice across the world, as well as the work of many other scientists, has proved that non-pharmacological treatment of Alzheimer's, such as environmental design responsive to their capacities, caregiver education, and visits to museums with research-based selection of art works and specially trained guides, can be just as powerful as other medicinal treatments in reducing symptoms of dementia and the big four A's of Alzheimer's: agitation, anxiety, aggression, and apathy.
"Current attitudes to Alzheimer's are woefully outdated and could be compared to the way that epilepsy or autism was viewed in the 19th century."