Research finds diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, dementia decreases social activity



Ani |
updated:
November 30, 2021 12:23 IST

New Jersey [US], Nov. 30 (ANI): Despite the belief that a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is critical, a new study from Rutgers University has found that a diagnosis can have an unintended effect on social relationships and social activity.
The research has been published in the Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders Journal.
It examined how receiving a recent diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia affects social networking, social engagement, and social support.
“Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia are a public health priority that has a significant impact on people with these diseases, their families and their community,” said lead author Takashi Amano, associate professor in the Department of Social Work at Rutgers University in Newark.
“In recent years, health professionals have wanted people to be diagnosed early because of benefits such as better planning for long-term care and reduced anxiety. While there are benefits to receiving an early diagnosis, negative outcomes may include an increased risk of suicide or physician-seeking-assisted suicide.”
The study found that a person’s social network and social support did not increase after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia, which may be particularly problematic for disadvantaged populations with fewer resources.
According to the study — which found that such a diagnosis reduced time on the phone, face-to-face contact, and attendance at sports and other social events — more than 6 million people in the United States were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia in 2020.

The researchers used data from the Health and Retirement Study, a national study that surveyed adults and their spouses ages 51 and older. Researchers tracked adults in 2012, 2014, and 2016.
Those diagnosed in 2014 were compared with those who were not. The researchers measured their social relationships two years after their diagnosis, looking at both social and informal participation, such as meeting and talking on the phone, and formal participation, such as volunteering, and attending educational programs, sports or social events with clubs or non-religious people. organizations. The social network included the number of close ties that bind a person. Social support was viewed as either positive or negative.
The results indicated that receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia may have unintended effects on social relationships, including decreased formal and informal social participation.
The researchers suggested that practitioners and policy makers be aware of the consequences, identify strategies to mitigate the negative impact of receiving a diagnosis and seek ways to mobilize support networks after diagnosis.
“Social relationships are an essential feature of our quality of life and can act as a buffer against cognitive decline,” said co-author Adam Reynolds, a doctoral student at the Rutgers School of Social Work – New Brunswick.
“Because there is no cure for these diseases, we must focus on ways that people can maintain or improve their quality of life after receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia,” Adam added.
It may be particularly important to promote informal social engagement — face-to-face and telephone communication — that is more accessible than formal social engagement, the researchers said. (Ani)

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