Patients with early-stage dementia benefit from group-based interventions to help manage their own condition, according to a pilot study by UK researchers.
It found that attending weekly “self-management” group sessions that encouraged socialisation, discussion, problem solving and goal setting fostered independence and promoted social support.
“Our initial results indicate that enabling people with dementia to take control and manage their condition can be beneficial”
The groups, led by trained facilitators, were focused on providing people with a better understanding of their dementia and ways to cope with it.
Participants were supported in their ability to manage their own symptoms, treatment and lifestyle changes with information and expert help.
They were then encouraged to share ideas and strategies for dealing with their condition and were encouraged to record notes and reminders in a handbook.
The study, published in the journal International Psychogeriatrics, was led by researchers from the University of Exeter and also involved Bangor University.
Lead author Dr Catherine Quinn noted that developing dementia could be a “scary and isolating experience”.
“We found early evidence that empowering people to manage their own symptoms and bringing them together helped them feel more confident about managing everyday life with dementia,” she said.
“All this has helped to enhance their quality of life. The group members became friends and supported each other, and we found they benefited from being able to learn from each other,” she added.
“Empowering people to manage their own symptoms and bringing them together helped them feel more confident about managing everyday life with dementia”
The study, which was funded by Health and Care Research Wales, compared a group of people with early-stage dementia who attended the 90-minute sessions for eight weeks to a group who received no intervention.
The impact of the sessions was assessed by interviews with people with dementia and their carers after three months and then again after six.
Results showed that participants benefitted from the facilitator support, information and help provided, and became better able to help themselves and found support in other group members.
“We will need to carry out a larger scale trial to obtain more definitive evidence, but our initial results indicate that enabling people with dementia to take control and manage their condition can be beneficial,” said Dr Quinn.