Dementia Care and Social Interaction: In Healthcare Facilities and at Home
A recent NPR article, detailing important studies conducted by researchers in the U.S., U.K., and Israel, recently discussed how important social interaction is for dementia patients’ quality of life, especially in the context of health care facilities. The studies centered on an approach to senior care that prioritizes treating those who have dementia as a person and not just a patient. This approach attempts to look at the whole rather than the parts, i.e. people with dementia should not be reduced to the illnesses they have. Instead, they should be seen as whole individuals with likes, dislikes, desires, emotions, needs, etc. These studies found that the more nursing home residents could engage socially, the more their quality of life improved. There were also improvements in certain difficult behaviors.
Healthcare facilities can be good at responding to physical needs of patients but may not know how to respond to the emotional and/or spiritual needs of the person for which they’re caring. And although this study was focused on the context of healthcare facilities, this is also important if your loved one lives at home.
When you interact with your loved one, take the time to respond to them in ways that allow them to engage with you. This means asking your loved one what their interests are, talking to them about what they want to do or the things they have done, and bringing out photo albums to help them engage in conversation about the past. Of course, the level at which your loved one is able to engage with you is dependent on the stage of their condition. For instance, if you can’t take your loved one out gardening or for a short walk, then try to resort to other activities like conversations or doing light chores around the house.
The objective of these approaches is to help your loved one find independence and a sense of autonomy in their own life. The above article mentions how nursing home residents can be given a schedule of daily activities to do. You can try to do the same for your loved one at home. Let your loved one tell you what they would like to do. Help them create and stick to a schedule. Help them find friends to speak with. You will be surprised just how profound the effects social engagement can have on your loved one’s mood, behavior, and overall quality of life.
If you want to learn more about ElderCare at Home, then please visit our website to learn how we can help you. Alternatively, you can give us a call at 888-285-0093.