Regular chats are a simple but effective way that occupational therapists can help to enhance the lives of their patients who are living with dementia, new research shows.
Doctors from the University of Exeter have spent the last nine months conducting a trial in 69 UK care homes, where they have been monitoring the benefits of short but regular conversations on the health of people suffering from dementia.
They found that just ten minutes of conversation a day - amounting to an hour over the course of a week - helped to significantly improve the quality of life of dementia patients.
Talking to people about their family or interests can induce powerful nostalgia and other emotions, giving people who are struggling with cognitive decline something to focus their brains on and a chance to interact with others.
Regularly using their speech, listening and other communication skills helps to prevent them from declining too.
These findings therefore suggest that personalised care and one-to-one interaction from occupational therapists and other healthcare workers can have a significant impact on dementia patients' wellbeing, improving their overall quality of life.
This is a really simple element of care to implement too; all it needs is for care home staff or occupational therapists to spend time learning about each patients' individual interests and family lives so they can make sure they are talking about topics they are passionate about.
Commenting on the findings, Dr Doug Brown, director of research at the Alzheimer's Society, said: "This study shows that training to provide this type of individualised care, activities and social interactions can have a significant impact on the wellbeing of people living with dementia in care homes.
"It also shows that this kind of effective care can reduce costs, which the stretched social care system desperately needs."
Therefore, with this in mind, learning new ways to interact and communicate with their patients should be something that occupational therapists working with dementia patients consider moving forward.
Written by Alex Franklin Stortford
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