Why do people living with dementia experience social and physical isolation? There's no medical reason for it; and you can make a difference!
© Danielle Robertson Consulting Pty Ltd t/as DR Care Solutions
Often after a diagnosis of dementia, people living with the condition find themselves socially isolated and spending most of their days indoors. Let’s look at the research.
A recent Australian survey revealed that 91% of people who have a loved one with dementia indicated that people no longer kept in touch with their loved one as they used to.
A UK study found that carers tended to be overcautious and risk adverse in undertaking outdoor activities with their loved one living with dementia. In short, 83% of carers felt it was better to remain indoors while only 20% of those living with dementia considered it a barrier to enjoying outdoor spaces.
Stop the stigma
Both forms of isolation encapsulate the stigma attached to dementia. When it comes to keeping in contact, the attitude appears to be, “They have lost their marbles so what’s the point?”. As for outings, “It’s all a bit too hard, time-consuming and risky – and they might get a taste for it and start wandering.”
Overcoming isolation – making a difference to someone’s day
Live in the present – find a friend living with dementia
If you spend your time worrying about the future, then develop a friendship with a person living with dementia. Through that friendship you’ll learn to live in the present.
Pick up the phone
If you have a loved one or friend living with dementia, pick up the phone and help them stay socially connected. Make the call in the morning when their “brain battery” is charged. When chatting to your friend avoid putting them on the spot, testing their memory, and asking open-ended questions.
Go and visit
Make a commitment to yourself to visit your loved one or friend at least once every six months or whatever timeframe is possible.
Plan what you will do on your visit. Take inspiration from the activities listed in the free Dementia Activity Poster compiled by DR Care Solutions for Dementia Month.
The activities listed include outdoor activities like taking a walk. On this point, fascinating UK research found that meaningful activity and connection with the natural environment can have a positive effect on people with dementia. Such engagement can slow down the progression of symptoms and bring improvements in quality of life.
Enjoy and benefit from the great outdoors!
The UK research found walking meant a great deal to the person living with dementia. Several spoke of its importance in escaping an indoor life and the calming effect it had on both them and their carer.
Wildlife watching, usually bird watching, was cited as very popular. Coinciding with this finding was the popularity of visiting places associated with water (inland, coast, natural, artificial), with lakes in particular having a calming event. City parks or public gardens were also very popular outdoor destinations.
With World Alzheimer’s Month falling in September, there is no better time to take your loved one or friend out for a Spring walk. Go make a difference to someone’s day and organise an outing or visit!
If you are visiting someone living with dementia, download our Dementia Activity Poster for great ideas of activities you can share with your loved one.
Dementia Activity Poster
Activities for Living in the Moment & Enjoying the Present
Visits to a loved one living with dementia can be an amazing and rewarding experience for both of you. But we know it's not always easy knowing what activities to enjoy with them that will be rewarding, fun and comfortable.
We put together a list of enjoyable activities for your visits.
It's free and easy to download; we invite you to get your copy.
Submit the form below and we'll send it directly to your email address.
Seeking care for a loved one? Please feel free to call me, Danielle Robertson, for an initial discussion on how to set up the right care, support and assistance at the right time and in the right place.
 Dementia Australia: Communities
 DR Care Solutions' Dementia Activity Poster
 Clark, P., Mapes, N., Burt, J. & Preston, S. 2013. Greening Dementia - a literature review of the benefits and barriers facing individuals living with dementia in accessing the natural environment and local greenspace. Natural England Commissioned Reports, Number 137
 Mapes, N., Milton, S., Nicholls, V., Williamson, T. 2016. Is it Nice Outside? - Consulting people living with dementia and carers about engaging with the natural environment. Natural England Commissioned Reports, Number 211