A robust research analysis has identified the key factors to support quality of life for people with dementia.
The study, led by the University of Exeter and published in the journal Psychological Medicine, found that good relationships, social engagement, better every day functioning, good physical and mental health, and high-quality care were all linked to better quality of life for people with dementia.
The research was supported jointly by the Economic and Social Research Council and the National Institute for Health Research. It involved collaboration with the London School of Economics, the universities of Sussex, Bangor, Cardiff, Brunel and New South Wales in Australia, and King’s College London.
The team carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis to examine all available evidence about the factors that are associated with quality of life for people with dementia. They included 198 studies, which incorporated data from more than 37,000 people.
The study found that demographic factors such as gender, education, marital status, income or age were not associated with quality of life in people with dementia. Neither was the type of dementia.
Factors that are linked with poor quality of life include poor mental or physical health, difficulties such as agitation or apathy, and unmet needs.
Factors that are linked with better quality of life include having good relationships with family and friends, being included and involved in social activities, being able to manage everyday activities, and having religious beliefs.
Many other factors showed small but statistically significant associations with quality of life. This suggests that the way in which people evaluate their quality of life is related to many aspects of their lives, each of which have a modest influence. It is likely that to some extent the aspects that are most important may be different for each person.
Evidence from longitudinal studies about what predicts whether or not someone will experience a good quality of life at later stages was limited. The best indicator was the person’s initial rating of quality of life. This again highlights the importance of optimising quality of life from the earliest stages of living with dementia.
The full paper, entitled Living well with dementia: a systematic review and correlational meta-analysis of factors associated with quality of life, well-being and life satisfaction in people with dementia, is published in Psychological Medicine. Authors are Anthony Martyr, Sharon M. Nelis, Catherine Quinn, Yu-Tzu Wu, Ruth A. Lamont, Catherine Henderson, Rachel Clarke, John V. Hindle, Jeanette M. Thom, Ian Rees Jones, Robin G. Morris, Jennifer M. Rusted, Christina R. Victor and Linda Clare.