Why Social Interaction Is Important for People with Dementia
Research presented this week at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in London suggests an approach called ecopsychosocial intervention can significantly improve mood and quality of life for people with memory loss, dementia, and other cognitive problems in nursing homes, long-term rehabilitation centers, and residential facilities.
According to data from four clinical trials presented by researchers from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Israel, this approach gives residents a greater sense of control and independence, better meets their psychological and emotional needs, improves their ability to care for themselves, and can reduce the need for medication. The goal is to treat residents as whole people, rather than just as patients.
In one study, which involved 800 residents in 69 nursing homes across the U.K., each resident was given at least one hour a week of social interaction with a health care worker. Staff members found activities geared toward each resident’s interests and skill level, such as looking at photographs, talking about friends and family, gardening or talking about gardening, etc. After 18 months, study participants reported a significant improvement in their quality of life.