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Social interaction improves the quality of life in dementia patients


Social care should be improved when caring for dementia patients

Dementia is common. For this reason, there is also a growing need for improved care or care for people with dementia. Researchers have now found that increasing social interaction in combination with personalized care improves people's quality of life.

The researchers at the University of Exeter, King’s College London and the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust found that caring for older people with dementia in nursing homes can be significantly improved if social interaction with those affected is increased. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "PLOS Medicine".

One hour of social interaction per week is enough

The large-scale investigation has shown that increasing social interaction in connection with personalized care improves the quality of life and also saves costs. If elderly people with dementia live in a nursing home, one hour of social interaction per week would be enough to improve the quality of life of those affected. Previous research had shown that residents in many nursing homes only had about two minutes of social interaction a day.

The program reduces agitation and aggression

For their study, the authors ensured that certain key people in nursing homes received training to ensure a person-centered approach to care. This was done, for example, by talking to residents about their interests. Already one hour of social interaction a week improved the quality of life and reduced agitation and aggression in people with dementia.

The quality of care in nursing homes varies widely

Many nursing homes do an excellent job, but the standards are still very different, explains study author Professor Clive Ballard from the University of Exeter Medical School. Since it was previously established that the average interaction for people with dementia is only two minutes a day, the resulting effects on quality of life and agitation are hardly surprising, the expert adds.

Medical professionals need to develop further approaches to improve care

This approach to dealing with people with dementia improves care and also saves costs. More and more approaches need to be developed that do justice to the most vulnerable people in society, the doctors explain. Out of about 170 care manuals available on the market, only four are based on the measures that really work, the researchers add. This is simply not enough and needs to be improved.

Researchers examined more than 800 people with dementia in their study

The study involved more than 800 people with dementia in 69 nursing homes in South London, North London and Buckinghamshire. Two nursing staff were trained in four full-day sessions in each home, for example to talk to the residents about their interests and decisions about their own nursing. The next major challenge is to expand the program to the 28,000 UK nursing homes. The experts emphasize that the quality of life of around 300,000 people with dementia can be improved in these facilities.

Social interaction has a significant impact on wellbeing

A so-called person-centered approach is about getting to know each resident as an individual, including his interests and preferences. These can then be reflected in all aspects of nursing, explain the doctors. This approach to treatment could significantly reduce agitation and save health care costs. Nationwide training could benefit many people in the future. This study shows that training to provide this type of individual care and social interaction can have a significant impact on the well-being of people with dementia in nursing homes, the experts conclude. (as)

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