In a new analysis, researchers identify the key factors associated with a better quality of life in people with dementia. The findings are published in the journal Psychological Medicine.
The study, led by researchers from the University of Exeter in the U.K., found that good relationships, social engagement, better everyday functioning, good physical and mental health, and high-quality care were all tied to a higher quality of life for people with dementia.
“This research supports the identification of national priorities for supporting people to live as well as possible with dementia. While many investigations focus on prevention and better treatments, it’s equally vital that we understand how we can optimize quality of life for the 50 million people worldwide who have dementia,” said Professor Linda Clare from the University of Exeter.
“We now need to develop ways to put these findings into action to make a difference to people’s lives by supporting relationships, social engagement and everyday functioning, addressing poor physical and mental health, and ensuring high-quality care.”
For the study, the researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to investigate all available evidence regarding the factors associated with quality of life for people with dementia. This included 198 studies, which incorporated data from more than 37,000 people.
Factors linked with better quality of life include having good relationships with family and friends, being included and involved in social activities, being able to manage everyday activities and having religious beliefs.
Factors not found to be associated with quality of life in dementia include gender, education, marital status, income, age or type of dementia.
Factors tied to a poor quality of life included poor mental or physical health, difficulties such as agitation or apathy, and unmet needs.
Many other factors showed small but statistically significant associations with quality of life. This suggests that quality of life may be associated with many aspects of our lives, each of which has a modest influence. In addition, the aspects that are deemed most important may be different for each person.
Evidence from longitudinal studies about what predicts whether or not someone will experience a good quality of life at later stages was limited. The best indicator was the person’s initial rating of quality of life. This emphasizes the importance of optimizing quality of life from the earliest stages of living with dementia.
“Maintaining a healthy social life and doing things you enjoy is important for everyone’s quality of life. As this Alzheimer’s Society-funded study highlights, people living with dementia are no exception,” said Dr. Doug Brown, chief policy and research officer at Alzheimer’s Society.
“Someone develops dementia every three minutes but too many are facing it alone and feel socially isolated, a factor that researchers pinpoint contributing to a lower quality of life.”
Source: University of Exeter