Saturday, July 24, 2010
Can Older Adults With Dementia Enjoy Life? (Research, Arts Video 3:04 mins.)
I have a friend whose mother has Alzheimer's disease. He and his father are her primary caregivers at home. He says that people generally feel sorry for them. When his mother’s name comes up in conversations, the tone changes to one of sadness. They also assume that his mother must be an unhappy person because of her mentally impaired condition. The other day, I smiled at his response when I asked him how she was doing. He said, “Mama is doing just fine. Pops and I focus on keeping her healthy and active. Most of the time, she is as happy as she can be.”
A research study in the “International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry” supports that assessment. Consisting of interviews with 1,620 community-dwelling older adults, the study examined the following:
1) Overall life satisfaction with material circumstances and with social circumstances of older adults with no cognitive impairment, with cognitive impairment without dementia, and with dementia
2) The effect of cognition on life satisfaction across a broad spectrum of cognition
3) The effect of factors such as depressive symptoms, functional impairment, education, and social support.
While participants with dementia and participants with cognitive impairment without dementia did have lower life satisfaction than those with normal cognition, the effects were relatively small. The study concluded that, although cognition is associated with life satisfaction, older adults are generally satisfied with life.
Older adults with dementia have varied days like everyone else. Happy memories and enriching activities can slow dance into their realities and fill them with joy. This video titled “I Remember Better When I Paint: Treating Alzheimer’s Through Creative Arts” shows how creative arts activities can enhance the quality of their lives. A longer DVD version can be purchased at amazon.com, frenchcx.com, artistsforalzheimers.com, and hilgos.com.
Frances Shani Parker, Author