Meaningful activity in advanced dementia
evidence and practice    

Meaningful activity in advanced dementia

Margaret Brown Senior Lecturer, Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice, University of the West of Scotland, Hamilton, Scotland
Bryan Mitchell Lecturer, University of the West of Scotland, Hamilton, Scotland; Samuel Quinn, PhD researcher, University of the West of Scotland, Hamilton, Scotland
Andrea Boyd Associate Improvement Adviser, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland
Debbie Tolson Professor of Dementia and Director of the Alzheimer Scotland Centre, Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice, University of the West of Scotland, Hamilton, Scotland

Why you should read this article:
  • To acknowledge that the research base for meaningful activity in advanced dementia is limited but increasing

  • To recognise that people living with advanced dementia should have the opportunity to participate in personalised meaningful activities that may enhance their quality of life and well-being

  • To be aware that carers and practitioners will require support and training to implement personalised meaningful activities with people living with advanced dementia

This article is part of a series in Nursing Older People exploring the nursing care of people living with advanced dementia. When someone with advanced dementia can no longer communicate verbally and has limited movement, activities they once enjoyed may no longer be possible. This limits opportunities for self-realisation and can lead to a preoccupation in advanced dementia care about the routines associated with the maintenance of comfort and nourishment, at the expense of contentment and moments of fulfilment. Such a narrow focus can lead to changes in behaviour, indicating boredom, frustration and distress. Yet there are opportunities for a more creative approach to activity that can be adapted to the person’s changing needs and the human desire to feel connected and engaged.

Examples of these evidence-informed, creative interventions for people living with advanced dementia care include music, doll-focused activity, animal-assisted interventions, multisensory experiences such as Namaste Care and complementary therapies. These activities can engage the person with advanced dementia in a close connection with another human being through individualised and sensory-based care.

Nursing Older People. doi: 10.7748/nop.2020.e1171

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software

Correspondence

margaret.brown@uws.ac.uk

Conflict of interest

None declared

Brown M, Mitchell B, Quinn S et al (2020) Meaningful activity in advanced dementia. Nursing Older People. doi: 10.7748/nop.2020.e1171

Published online: 02 September 2020

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