NH Residents With Dementia Benefit From Increased Social Interaction

July 28, 2017

A new study found that slightly increasing the amount of weekly social interaction that individuals with dementia get could enhance their quality of life and reduce health care costs.

More than 800 residents with dementia from 69 nursing homes (NHs) in the United Kingdom were part of the study. Researchers trained 2 staff members at each facility to engage with the residents through simple social activities, such as talking to them about interests, and told them to interact for an hour per week with residents.
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Lead study author Clive Ballard, MD, University of Exeter (Exeter, England), said, “People with dementia who are living in [nursing] homes are among the most vulnerable in our society….Our outcomes show that good staff training and just one hour a week of social interaction significantly improves quality of life for a group of people who can often be forgotten by society” (Health. July 17, 2017). 

Researchers saw improvements in residents’ quality of life and reduced agitation. Dr Ballard and coauthors also saw financial benefits after this strategy when compared with costs of standard care.

These preliminary study results were presented at the 2017 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London.—Amanda Del Signore