Improving Quality of Life for People Who Have Dementia

An elderly woman in a wheelchair stops in a grassy field. She is speaking with a young woman and senior man.Dementia is a group of conditions involving a loss of brain function. Dementia can affect memory, cognition, and executive function. In advanced stage dementia, it often becomes impossible to talk, recognize loved ones, or control movement.

Currently there is no cure for dementia. Most clinical guidelines emphasize improving quality of life for people with dementia. Quality of life, or QoL, refers to a person’s general well-being and life satisfaction.

A new study in Psychological Medicine has synthesized data from 198 separate studies. It has created a comprehensive analysis of factors linked to quality of life for people with dementia. The study has found factors that can improve QoL and variables that may predict poor QoL.

Which Factors Affect Quality of Life for People with Dementia?

The study drew on data via a meta-analysis and systematic review of 198 previous studies. The analysis included data from 37,639 people. Researchers looked at 43 different factors to assess which might play a role in QoL among people with dementia.

Demographic factors such as marital status, gender, or income level had no effect on QOL. The type of dementia also showed no effect on quality of life.

For people with dementia, poor quality of life was linked to:

Good quality of life was linked to:

  • Strong relationships with friends and family
  • Feeling included in social activities
  • Being able to manage daily tasks
  • Religious beliefs

Dementia Quality of Life: How Small Things Add Up

The study emphasizes that factors predicting QoL varied from person to person. A lifelong atheist, for example, might not find much comfort from religious services.

Researchers also found many factors offered small benefits to well-being. Strategies that improve quality of life might have a cumulative effect. A person who keeps in touch with family and manages everyday tasks may have a better QoL than someone who only talks to family.

The study offered limited data on what, if any, factors predict long-term quality of life. Researchers did find QoL early in the study predicted greater QoL later. This points to the need to improve quality of life early, perhaps immediately following a dementia diagnosis.

References:

  1. Key factors to support quality of life in dementia. (2018, May 09). ScienceDaily. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180509081959.htm
  2. Martyr, A., Nelis, S. M., Quinn, C., Wu, Y., Lamont, R. A., Henderson, C., . . . Clare, L. (2018). Living well with dementia: A systematic review and correlational meta-analysis of factors associated with quality of life, well-being and life satisfaction in people with dementia. Psychological Medicine, 1-10. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2G1F3xS

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