Written by Active Minds on Friday the 21st of June 2019.
Loneliness can be common in older people as it becomes more difficult to access social situations. In fact, according to the Alzheimer’s Society, around half a million older people don’t come in to contact with anyone else for more than six days a week, which can have huge detriments on health.
For those living with dementia social isolation is of higher risk, as things such as communication difficulties, increased care needs, or the stigma surrounding dementia can all play a part.
When living with dementia communication difficulties can often lead to social withdrawal, and as such it is important to encourage socialisation in a variety of different ways. When social activities take place, it should be ensured that they are in comfortable and familiar surroundings so as not to cause agitation or confusion.
Remember to encourage socialisation through activities your loved one will enjoy and take it at their pace so they don’t become overwhelmed.
One of the best ways to encourage natural socialisation and reduce loneliness in those living with dementia is during group activities, such as listening to a familiar piece of music together or watching an old film and discussing it afterwards.
If your loved one lives in a care home, why not encourage them to take part in group activities there, or if they live at home see if there are opportunities in your local community for dementia friendly group activities such as day walks or attending a dementia café.
Exercise can be a fantastic way to encourage socialisation, whilst improving health and mental wellbeing. Many local communities have group exercise classes available for those living with dementia, with various skill levels available. It is important to have doctors’ assessments before encouraging your loved one to take part in exercise classes, and remember these are supposed to be fun and engaging.
For many people living with dementia it can become increasingly difficult to express feelings and emotions, as well as communicating these effectively to people. An excellent way to gain self-expression is through art.
Activities which involve a level of creativity such as painting, drawing or scrapbooking can be excellent ways for boosting confidence, along with encouraging socialisation. Why not take time to ask your loved one about the art they have created, or perhaps discuss the photographs in the scrapbook. Questions surrounding their achievement will help your loved one to feel confident and happy which in turn will aid in reducing social withdrawal.
Spending Time with Loved Ones
Remember that socialisation does not always have to revolve around an activity and can be as simple as taking the time to have a cup of tea with your loved one. Visiting regularly and ensuring they are happy and healthy is of great importance and will go a long way to boosting their mood and improving overall wellbeing.