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Want to help dementia patients? Just spend an hour a week interacting with them

Spending one hour each week interacting with dementia patients about their interests can help improve their quality of life and reduce agitation, says a new study.

fitness Updated: Jul 18, 2017 14:18 IST
Asian News International, Washington DC
Dementia,Social interaction,Health
Just one hour a week of social interaction with dementia patients improved quality of life and reduced agitation.(Shutterstock)

If your grandparents are suffering from dementia, then you can help them by interacting with them about their interests for an hour a week and improve their quality life. Earlier research showed that exercising the mind by playing puzzles can keep dementia away. Dementia is a group of thinking and social symptoms that interferes with daily functioning. Researchers at the University of Exeter, King’s College London and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust led the study. The team analysed more than 800 people with dementia across 69 care homes in South London, North London and Buckinghamshire.

Two ‘care staff champions’ at each home were trained over four day-long sessions, to take simple measures that involve talking to residents about their interests and decisions around their own care. When combined with just one hour a week of social interaction, it improved quality of life and reduced agitation. Lead researcher Clive Ballard said, “People with dementia, who are living in care homes are among the most vulnerable in our society.”

“Incredibly, of 170 carer training manuals available on the market, only four are based on evidence that they really work. Our outcomes show that good staff training and just one hour a week of social interaction significantly improves quality of life for a group of people who can often be forgotten by society,” Ballard added. According to researchers, this approach significantly improves lives, reduces agitation and actually saves money too.

Doug Brown, Director of Research for Alzheimer’s Society said, “70% of people living in care homes have dementia, so it is vital that staff have the right training to provide good quality dementia care.” The study shows that training to provide this type of individualised care, along with activities and social interactions, has a significant impact on the well-being of people living with dementia in care homes. The results were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2017 (AAIC) in London.

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First Published: Jul 18, 2017 14:17 IST