Annals of Long-Term Care: Clinical Care and Aging. 2015;23(5):36-38
A new study found three themes important to the quality of life of long-term care residents with dementia: (1) maintaining independence; (2) having something to do; and (3) engaging in social interaction. Researchers in Australia came to their findings after conducting face-to-face interviews with 9 women and 3 men, 73–96 years of age, who were diagnosed with dementia and living in long-term care. The majority had Alzheimer’s disease.
“It is commonly assumed that people with dementia are unable to articulate the things that are important to them and that influence their quality of life,” researchers wrote. “Our results contribute to the quality-of-life research agenda by showing that the residents in this study were able to discuss important aspects of quality of life that need to be solicited, heard, and appreciated by care providers and families in order that long-term care facilities can become more responsive to factors that support quality of life.”
Although most participants considered independence essential for quality of life, views were mixed as to whether long-term care promoted independence or challenged it, researchers reported. One participant who moved from a retirement village to a long-term care facility felt more independent in her new setting, although others said they felt restricted in long-term care.
Activities, whether group events or solitary pursuits such as reading and knitting, were another important element that enhanced quality of life for the majority of participants. However, participants’ responses prompted researchers to note the importance of resident input in activity planning. “Several participants’ accounts highlighted that other people should not assume which activities residents will find meaningful,” they wrote. “One woman mentioned an ongoing organized activity where school students and residents have an opportunity to meet—the residents visit the school, and the students visit the facility. When asked if she enjoys that, she said, ‘Well, not particularly, to be honest’ (laughs).”
Relationships, conversation, and keeping company with others were found to be extremely important to most of the residents in the study. “Some participants find that friends helped make life meaningful,” researchers reported, “that talking to people made them happy, and that having company reduced loneliness.” The study was published in the online BMC Geriatrics (http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2318/15/50).