Less Active Dementia Patients Have Lower Quality of Life

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Patients with dementia who live in long-term care facilities often have very low levels of activity, strongly contributing to a low quality of life, according to research presented at a research conference in Australia.

Researchers also found that family members and staff tended to be pessimistic about how capable dementia patients were of engaging in meaningful activities.

Wendy Moyle, PhD, from the Menzies Health Institute of Queensland at Griffith University, explained that just because people with dementia are cognitively impaired doesn’t mean that they should miss out on engagement with an activity.

Researchers measured participation levels in 15 leisure activities from 53 residential aged care facilities in Australia. For the 191 residents who were able to rate themselves, the average score was 11.4 on a scale of 0 to 30. The average score from 435 staff members was 9.6, and the average score from family members was 7.

The researchers also tested participants’ cognitive impairment and found that it was not related to how they assessed their participation in activities.

“There appears to be a wrongly held assumption by staff and family that people with severe or late stage dementia are not capable of leisure activity or that they do not require the stimulation of activities. However we can see that although these people see themselves as having low ability, they have the capacity for a lot more,” said Dr. Moyle.

Dr. Moyle suggested that higher staff-to-resident ratios should be required in care homes and that more volunteers should be integrated to provide more leisure activities.

Less Active Dementia Patients Have Lower Quality of Life
Cognitive impairment was not related to dementia patients’ assessment of their activity participation.

Dementia patients living in long-term care often have very low levels of activity, and this strongly contributes to a low quality of life, according to a new large-scale national study by the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre and Griffith University in Australia.

The findings also show that family members and staff tend to be pessimistic regarding the capabilities of dementia patients to become engaged in meaningful activities.

The study involved 53 residential aged care facilities in Australia. The researchers measured the participation levels across 15 leisure activities for residents with dementia (five items indoors and 10 items outdoors). For the 191 residents who were able to rate their own activity, the average score was 11.4 out of 30, with zero being the lowest participation rate and 30 being the highest.

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