When a family member or close friend is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or a similar form of dementia, it can be an adjustment for everyone who loves them. Some of the behaviors common among adults with a memory impairment, such as wandering and unexpected outbursts, can make socializing a little more challenging.
To help the older adult stay connected socially, it’s essential to find ways to adapt everything from holiday parties to travel plans. Here’s why it’s important to make the effort, along with some suggestions to help you do just that.
Staying Social After a Diagnosis of Dementia
When a senior has Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia, you can help them maintain the best quality of life by allowing them to feel like they are still part of your circle of friends. Creating environments and opportunities to socialize helps:
- Preserve remaining cognitive function: Personal interactions force people to think of how to respond. This process stimulates brain cells and forms brain synapses that help generate new nerve cells. That’s vital for helping someone with a memory impairment protect their remaining abilities.
- Reduce loneliness: Imagine spending at least part of your day surrounded by what seem to be unfamiliar faces while you struggle to understand what is happening around you. That’s probably how it feels to have dementia. Socializing can help the senior feel like they are a part of things.
- Improve concentration skills: Dementia makes it more difficult to concentrate. Socializing requires an older adult to work on maintaining focus, which helps improve and protect their ability to concentrate.
When a friend or loved one has dementia, the key to socializing is to learn how to adapt situations so they feel comfortable and confident.
Including a Senior with Dementia in Social Activities
Here are a few tips for including a friend or family member with dementia in social activities:
- Limit gathering size: Adults with dementia often struggle when they are in a crowd. That’s often due to the damage the disease causes to their brain. It becomes challenging to process too many things at once. Smaller gatherings are usually less hectic, and it’s easier for them to relax and feel comfortable.
- Consider best times of day: It’s common for someone with a memory impairment to have good and bad times of day. A senior with Alzheimer’s, for example, may struggle with sundowning syndrome. That makes evenings a bad time for them to attend an activity or event.
- Stick to casual, quieter environments: While your social circle may have always enjoyed getting dressed up and heading out to a fancy dinner or a night at the theater, that type of environment might be tough for someone with dementia. Better options might be family-friendly restaurants, private homes, and quieter places like a park.
- Keep events shorter: Another tip is to make it easy for the senior with dementia to join you for even a short time. Formal, time-bound gatherings can be difficult. Open houses or drop-in gatherings allow them to come and go as they are able.
Plan in Advance for Changing Needs
When a senior has dementia, planning ahead is essential. As the disease progresses, your family might need the support of home care or a memory care program or community.
We invite you to talk with one of our senior care advisors for free. They can help you evaluate your options and find a solution for each step of the journey. Call 888-514-6461 today to learn more!
Photo by Vlad Sargu on Unsplash