Date: 20 December 2018
Optimism, self-esteem and physical health - along with a number of other factors - have been newly identified as factors important for enabling people with dementia and their carers to live as well as possible.
Researchers funded by the NIHR and the Economic and Social Research Council studied 1,547 people diagnosed with mild to moderate dementia and 1283 carers in the Improving the experience of Dementia and Enhancing Active Life (IDEAL) cohort. Both groups of participants provided ratings of their quality of life, satisfaction with life and wellbeing, in relation to dementia and to overall health.
The findings, published in two new papers in Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders, showed that a wide range of factors had a role in helping people to live well with dementia.
Psychological factors - such as optimism, self-esteem, loneliness and depression - were closely linked to whether both people with dementia and carers had optimal quality of life and wellbeing.
Experience in other areas of life also influenced psychological wellbeing and perceptions of living well. Physical health and fitness was important for both groups, as were social activity and interaction.
For people with dementia, their social situation and their ability to manage everyday life were important factors.
Carers rated their caregiving experience, and whether they felt trapped or isolated, as a key indicator in whether they could live well.
The research team combined the findings into one overall “living well” score for people with dementia, and one for carers. They hope it will inform support services and guide policy on where resources should be spent, help people with dementia and their carers to optimise their ability to “live well”.
Coauthor Dr Anthony Martyr, of the University of Exeter, said: “Our research gives more specific guidance on where we should focus efforts to help people live as well as possible with dementia. For example, looking at how we can help people with dementia to avoid depression or stay physically and socially active. For carers it could involve strengthening community ties and building strong networks. We now need to develop and research programmes to establish what really works in these areas.”
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