Sodexo Institute for Quality of Life
This is the second blog in a continuing series based on the findings from the Sodexo Institute for Quality of Life’s recent roundtable on memory care. Read the full whitepaper: “Treat me like a person, because that is what I still am.”
We each have a unique set of circumstances that determine our quality of life (QOL). This can include environmental factors, health and well-being, socio-economic status and more. For the more than five million Americans who live with dementia, QOL is influenced by a completely different set of circumstances.
The first blog post in this series highlighted how this roundtable assessed the stigma associated with the word, “dementia.” This stigma is rooted in the perception that dementia necessarily leads to a poor quality of life. As a result, some people who may be living with dementia or their relatives may not seek medical care for fear of the diagnosis. Fortunately, as the care community better understands how the condition impacts QOL, important advances are possible in how care can enhance QOL for people living with dementia, their relatives and caregivers.
With this in mind, the roundtable offered the following two important recommendations for caregivers and family to help improve the QOL for loved ones living with dementia.
Treat people living with dementia as just that – people. The roundtable’s whitepaper highlights, “Many people living with mild or moderate symptoms of dementia still have awareness of themselves as a complete individual with a distinct personality, a preserved sense of self and dignity, a sense of purpose, a desire to contribute to and satisfy needs, to form and develop social relations.” To that end, treating people living with dementia as people helps to reaffirm their sense of individuality. By understanding their unique needs, we can help to ensure people living with dementia have the right level of care.
Strive to support an appropriate level of autonomy. The different stages of dementia can be described as a ‘continuum of change’ through which the autonomy of people living with dementia can be supported in different ways to different levels. The roundtable’s whitepaper shares, “…autonomy is defined as behavior that is regulated by the individual and therefore consistent with their values and interests.” This autonomy can lead to:
- More creative learning and engagement
- Greater energy and vitality
- Lower stress
- Greater wellbeing
- Better relationships
These are all factors that can improve QOL for someone living with dementia. It is important for caregivers and family to evaluate and support autonomy for the individual, and fortunately there are new technologies that can help. Sodexo strives to create senior living environments that can support people living with dementia, as well as other seniors, to live the most independent and fulfilling life possible for as long as possible.
By improving the QOL of people living with dementia we can help to lessen the stigma and improve the overall quality of care. If you have a family member or loved one receiving memory care, please share in the comments section your tips to help improve their QOL.
Thomas Jelley is the Director of the Sodexo Institute for Quality of Life. An English law qualified lawyer by profession, Mr. Jelley led Sodexo’s corporate responsibility brief in the UK and Ireland business for over five years before joining the Sodexo Institute for Quality of Life, the company’s internal think-tank, in 2013.