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Research reveals key factors to good-quality life with dementia

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Analysts have pinpointed the precise factors that give people with dementia the best possible quality of life.

Good relationships, social interaction and everyday functioning are what people with dementia need most to live good-quality lives, says the study in Psychological Medicine.

Good physical and mental health and high-quality care were also linked to better quality of life for people with dementia.

“Understanding how we can help the 50 million people worldwide who have dementia live a good-quality life is a major priority,” said Brunel University London’s Professor Christina Victor, who worked on the study.

“Now we must put these findings into practice to enhance people’s lives by supporting relationships, social engagement, everyday functioning and high-quality care, and by tackling poor physical and mental health.”

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Gender, marital status, education, income or age are not linked to quality of life in people with dementia. Neither was the type of dementia.

But poor mental or physical health, issues such as worry or lack of enthusiasm and unmet needs were connected to poor quality of life.

Good relationships with family and friends, being included and involved socially, managing everyday activities and religious beliefs all improve life with dementia. The study also uncovered many other aspects of life have a smaller influence on life quality, which suggests different people have different needs when it comes to quality of life.

Backed by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the team ran a systematic review and meta-analysis of all available evidence about quality of life with dementia. They included 198 studies, drawing on data from more than 37,000 people.

“This research supports the identification of national priorities for supporting people to live as well as possible with dementia,” said Professor Linda Clare, at the University of Exeter, which led the study.

Dr Doug Brown, Chief Policy and Research Officer at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Maintaining a healthy social life and doing things you enjoy is important for everyone’s quality of life. As this study highlights, people living with dementia are no exception.

"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.

“People with dementia have a right to continue living a life they love. We need all of society to unite to ensure people with dementia feel understood, valued and able to contribute to their community.” 

Reported by:

Hayley Jarvis, Media Relations
+44 (0)1895 268176
hayley.jarvis@brunel.ac.uk