Studies found that social interactions could enhance the quality of lives of dementia sufferers. A recent study published in the journal PLOS Medicine tested this theory on more than 800 dementia patients in 69 care homes in south London, north London, and Buckinghamshire.
The program, which was a nine-month trial, involved training the household staff to know their patients, and performing a 60-minutes conversation each week with them by asking about their families and their passions and preferences.
In the span of these 9 months, researchers found that one-to-one interaction combined with personalized care significantly helped reduce aggression and agitation of these dementia patients.
In a statement, Clive Ballard, a professor at the University of Exeter Medical School said, “While many care homes are excellent, standards still vary hugely. We have previously found that the average amount of social interaction for people with dementia was just two minutes a day. It’s hardly surprising when that has a knock-on effect on quality of life and agitation. Our approach improves care and saves money. We must roll out approaches that work to do justice to some of the most vulnerable people in society. Incredibly, of 170 carer training manuals available on the market, only four are based on evidence that they really work. That is simply not good enough – it has to change.”
Dr. Sara Imarisio, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, “Just like any one of us, people with dementia benefit from social engagement and this study highlights how approaches to dementia care that include a social element can have a positive effect on quality of life and help to limit symptoms like agitation.”
Dr. Doug Brown, director of research at the Alzheimer’s Society said that about 70 percent of people living in care homes have dementia and so it is very important for staff to have the right training to provide adequate care and support to dementia sufferers. He also said that this kind of individualized care can bring down costs which the social care system is in desperate need at present.
Currently, the researchers plan to initiate the program in 28,000 care homes in the UK with the aim of benefitting the lives of 300,000 dementia patients at these facilities.
Supported by the National Institute of Health Research, the study was performed by a research team led by the University of Exeter, King’s College London, and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust. It is the largest non-pharmacological randomized control study in dementia sufferers living in care homes till date.
With the rise in aging population worldwide, the number of cases registered for dementia is also growing. Studies found that more than 46 million people live with dementia across the world and the number is anticipated to increase to 131 million by 2050.
Despite advances in science and medicine, there is no cure for dementia. Nevertheless, medical facilities throughout the world are seeking solutions such as home care services, psychological therapies, adult day care services, and more to improve the lives of people with dementia.
The difficulties and troubles associated with dementia can be distressing for the sufferers as well as their families. And this well-performed study is a step forward in addressing that.