Dementia study reveals power of social interaction

Just one hour of social interaction each week has a significant beneficial effect on people living with dementia, a new study has found.

The research published in PLOS Medicine revealed that social activities focused on people’s abilities and interests significantly reduced levels of anger and agitation.

Research leader Professor Clive Ballard of the University of Exeter medical school 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.

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“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.”

The nine-month trial in 69 care homes in South London, North London, and Buckinghamshire involved training care staff in learning about people’s interest and abilities and asking residents’ and their families about the care they received.

As well as engaging residents in conversations about their family and interests, people were also supported in taking part in activities such as gardening and music.

The trials resulted in major improvements in quality of life, agitation and neuropsychiatric symptoms with people with moderately severe dementia seeing the most benefit.

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