Why Spending Time with Loved Ones is Beneficial to Dementia Patients

Written by Active Minds on Monday the 29th of February 2016.

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One of the hardest aspects of dementia to cope with is the feeling of loneliness that often comes with the condition. Whether it’s down to feeling anxious or depressed about dementia or due to being placed in a care home, many people living with the condition report feeling isolated after their diagnosis.

This is especially the case for late-stage dementia patients and in particular those who have become unable to recognise family members and friends. In a recent survey conducted by Alzheimer’s Society, an astonishing 42% of people thought there was no point in continuing to visit a relative who could no longer recognise familiar faces. Out of 300 people living with dementia surveyed by the Society, 64% reported feeling isolated and more than half were found to be no longer taking part in any sort of social activity.

This sad fact demonstrates a widespread lack of understanding when it comes to dementia. While people living with the condition may demonstrate confusion or a lack of recognition when meeting family, they are still likely to experience feelings of happiness or contentment during the visit or even after the visit is over and they can no longer remember it. This is because the areas of the brain that deal with emotional memory lie deep within the brain’s structure and this sort of emotional response is often one of the longest surviving brain functions for those living with the condition.

Not only are visits likely to encourage feelings of happiness and security, they are also the perfect time to help a loved one engage in an activity that is beneficial for someone living with dementia. Even if your loved one doesn’t recognise you, they will still benefit from the stimulation, conversation and socialisation gained from finishing a jigsaw puzzle together or enjoying reminiscence activities.

Socialisation and stimulation are vital for people living with dementia and it’s important that those who feel isolated should not be left on their own. For ideas and inspiration for fun things to do with your loved one, take a look at our activity products for dementia.