Daily chats improve dementia sufferers' lives, study says

From BBC - February 6, 2018

Spending just 10 minutes a day talking to dementia sufferers about their interests or family could help improve their quality of life, according to a study.

Researchers carried out a nine-month trial in 69 care homes in England.

One-to-one interaction, combined with personalised care, significantly reduced the residents' anger and agitation, the study found.

The authors said other homes should try taking a more "personal" approach.

'Simple things... implemented robustly'

The study, published in PLOS Medicine, involved more than 800 people with dementia across care homes in south London, north London and Buckinghamshire over a nine-month randomised controlled trial.

Staff in the homes were trained to learn about their patients' interests and abilities and ask them and their families questions about the care they received.

This led to care that was more personalised and incorporated an hour a week of social interaction.

This could range from conversations about a patient's family, or interests such as sport, to helping them take part in activities like gardening or music.

The study found improvements in quality of life, agitation, and neuropsychiatric symptoms, with the greatest benefits for people with moderately severe dementia.

Prof Clive Ballard, of the University of Exeter medical school, who led the research, told the BBC: "Often there's a lot of nihilism around dementia, that people think that it's really awful, which it is, but think there's nothing you can do about it.

"I think what this is suggesting is that actually relatively simple things, if implemented robustly, can actually make a real difference to people's quality of life."


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