Feb 07, 2018

Just One Hour of Social Interaction Can Help People with Dementia, says Research

Social isolation can lead to negative health effects – this is something that many studies and researches have stated in the past.

The negative effects are especially seen in people living with dementia, who are more likely to exhibit agitation and restlessness than people who do have some social interactions.

It has even been suggested that being socially isolated can speed up the cognitive decline and make the progression of dementia more rapid.

The common cycle we often see with older people begins with isolation, then loneliness, through to depression and illness, progressively gets worse over time.

A new study has stated that socially interacting with a person with dementia for just one hour per week can significantly improve their quality of life.

Published in PLOS One, the large-scale trial was led by the University of Exeter, King’s College London and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Professor Clive Ballard from the University of Exeter Medical School, who led the research, 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.”

“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.”

The research found that this was also a cost effective approach, as addressing unmet needs can reduce the amount of medication and extra care that a resident may normally require.

“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,” said Professor Ballard.

Social interaction goes beyond just simply being there and talking at the resident. It involves being fully there and taking an interest in the person you are caring for.

Dr Jane Fossey from the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, explained that it’s about “taking a person-centred approach is about getting to know each resident as an individual – their interests and preferences – and reflecting these in all aspects of care.

“It can improve the lives of the person themselves and it can be rewarding for carers too. Rolling out the training nationwide could benefit many other people.”

Considering that 40 per cent of Australian aged care residents do not get any visitors all year round, adopting a “social” initiative could be beneficial for older Australians.

On top of having a more social approach to person-centred care, the family and loved ones of the resident also need to play their part to ensure the elderly resident does not feel isolated, and the consequential after effects.

What do you have to say? Comment, share and like below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Banner Banner
Advertisement

Physical restraint doesn’t protect patients – there are better alternatives

It’s an uncomfortable image to consider: an elderly person – perhaps somebody you know – physically restrained. Maybe an aged care resident deemed likely to fall has been bound to his chair using wrist restraints; or someone with dementia acting aggressively has been confined to her bed by straps and rails. These scenarios remain a... Read More

Genetic Test To Predict When You’ll Develop Alzheimer’s?

Could a new test tell if and when you’ll get Alzheimer’s disease? Scientists believe they have created a genetic test which can pinpoint how old a person will be when they develop Alzheimer’s disease. Previous genetic testing for Alzheimer’s has relied on detecting defects on the APOE gene, which has been believed to increase the... Read More

What a difference a party can make

I recently attended a Christmas party for the residents of a memory support unit where I work. The day was like any other Christmas party with a festive live music band, decorations on the walls and tables set for the special meal. The kitchen was a hive of activity, where food platters were being produced.... Read More
Banner Banner
Advertisement