A new UK study has identified primary psychological factors that can help dementia patients and their caregivers live their best lives.
"People with dementia have the right to live well, but without clear definition it can be difficult to determine what is living well" really means, "says Dr. James Pickett, research director at the Alzheimer's Society, a British care and research welfare for dementia patients and their caregivers.
"Having looked at several factors, the IDEAL program has found that psychological health has the greatest impact on those who are suffering from dementia living well," he said.
The study involved 1,547 people diagnosed with mild to moderate dementia and 1,283 caregivers. Both patients and caregivers provided assessments of their quality of life in relation to dementia and health. The research was done within the "Cohort Improvement of the Experience of Dementia and Improvement of Active Life" (IDEAL).
The research team, led by the University of Exeter, found that a large number of factors can play a role in living well.
In particular, psychological aspects such as optimism, self-esteem and whether a person has experienced loneliness and depression are all closely related to the ability to optimize the quality of life and well-being of both dementia and caregivers. Physical health and fitness, social activity and interaction are also very important for both groups.
Among dementia patients, a social situation and ability to control everyday life played vital roles in well-being. For carers, the feeling was trapped or isolated, important factors that reduced the quality of life.
"Too many people face dementia without adequate support, and interventions that improve self-esteem, challenge negative perceptions of aging and reduce depression or loneliness can all help improve mental health affected by the affected people," Pickett said. .
"It is so important to find ways for the 50 million people worldwide to have dementia to live as well as possible," says lead author Professor Linda Clare of the University of Exeter, who also heads the IDEAL study.
"Our research reveals which factors play a key role in maximizing factors such as well-being and quality of life. This should now be translated into better ways to support them with dementia."
The results provide specific guidance on where to focus our efforts to help people live as well as possible with dementia, says co-author Dr. Anthony Martyr from the University of Exeter.
"For example, we look at how we can help those with dementia to avoid depression or stay physically and socially active," he said.
"For carers, this can mean strengthening community ties and building strong networks. We must now develop and research programs to determine what really works in those areas."
The results are published in the journal Alzheimer's disease and associated disorders.
Source: University of Exeter