How can the quality of life of people with dementia be improved?
Unfortunately, more and more people are suffering from dementia these days. Researchers have now found that certain factors can be used to help people with dementia live as normal a life as possible.
The University of Exeter scientists found in their current research analysis that certain factors have a strong impact on the lives of people with dementia. Influencing these factors could enable sufferers to better deal with their illness in everyday life and to improve their quality of life. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Psychological Medicine".
What factors affect people with dementia?
There are several factors that have a strong impact on the lives of patients with dementia and significantly affect their quality of life. Good interpersonal relationships, social engagement, better everyday functions, good physical and mental health, and high-quality treatment and care lead to an improved quality of life for people with dementia, the researchers emphasize.
How can the treatment of dementia be improved?
The results of the current study help identify national priorities to help people live with dementia as well as possible, says study author Professor Linda Clare of the University of Exeter. While many studies focus on the prevention and improved treatment of dementia, it is equally important that experts and doctors understand how the quality of life of the approximately 50 million people with dementia around the world can be improved. Ways need to be identified to properly implement the factors affecting dementia. To do this, existing relationships, social engagement and everyday functions need to be supported, physical and mental problems need to be treated and high-quality care for the patients has to be managed, the scientists say.
Study analyzed data from more than 37,000 participants
The research team conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis for the study to examine all available evidence about the factors related to the quality of life of people with dementia. To do this, they analyzed the data from a total of 198 studies with more than 37,000 people. The study found that demographic factors such as gender, level of education, income or age are not related to the quality of life of people with dementia. Instead, factors associated with poorer quality of life include poor mental or physical health, restlessness or apathy, and unmet needs. The factors that are associated with a better quality of life include good relationships with family and friends, inclusion and participation in social activities, the ability to cope with everyday activities and religious beliefs, the doctors explain.
Other factors can have a significant impact
Many other factors showed small but statistically significant relationships with the quality of life. This suggests that the way people rate their quality of life is related to many aspects of their lives, each of which has a modest impact. It is likely that the most important aspects could differ to a certain extent from person to person, the researchers suspect.
Social isolation worsens the quality of life
There have been few long-term studies of what factors influence whether people will experience an improved quality of life later or not. The best indicator was the person's initial quality of life assessment. This once again underlines the importance of optimizing the quality of life in the first phases of life with dementia. While maintaining good quality of life as dementia progresses is more of a challenge overall, there has been at least some evidence of what affects quality of life, says study author Anthony Martyr of the University of Exeter.
Living a healthy social life and doing things you enjoy is important for quality of life and can significantly improve the quality of life for people with dementia. About every three minutes a person develops a dementia disease, but unfortunately many of the sufferers have to deal with their illness on their own, which leads to the fact that those affected feel socially isolated. A factor which, according to the experts, contributes to a lower quality of life. (as)