Socialising plays a big part in ensuring you are living a happy and well-balanced life, whether it’s interacting with family, friends or even strangers, we would ordinarily have some form of socialisation each day. It is important that as we age our levels of socialisation don’t diminish in order to prevent loneliness occurring, and this is especially true for those living with dementia.
There are a wide variety of benefits to socialising, from reducing stress, improving mood, increasing positivity and motivation, along with building lasting connections. For someone living with dementia, as communication may become more challenging, a common concern is social isolation and loneliness occurring. In order to ensure your loved one remains socially active and maintains a level of interaction, there may be some considerations which need to be made. Here we will discuss some top tips for encouraging socialisation for someone living with dementia.
5 Top Tips
If you are wanting to organise a day out to visit someone with your loved one, or perhaps you have someone coming over to visit, it is important to plan ahead. When living with dementia there may sometimes be behavioural changes in your loved one or they may experience difficulty in recalling who people are; it may be a good idea, therefore, to make those visiting aware of these changes, so they know what to expect from your loved one.
Showing photographs to your loved one of the people they will be seeing prior to their arrival and explaining who they are can also be a great idea for reducing any stress associated with the visit. Explaining carefully and patiently will help your loved one to understand and recognise people which will reduce any feelings of being overwhelmed or confused.
Choose a Familiar Location
New environments can be stressful for someone living with dementia, so choosing a location which your loved one is already familiar with is advisable. This could be their home, a familiar coffee shop or perhaps even a favourite park. Anywhere your loved one will feel comfortable and happy is a good choice. It is best to avoid places which will be loud or crowded as this can be stress-inducing, and try to avoid weekends and school holidays to ensure attractions will be quieter. If you are looking to attend a local attraction such as a museum, you can contact them ahead of time to ask for advice, as they can often help with dementia-friendly timings and provide accessible areas.
Using prompts can be highly beneficial for sparking conversations and encouraging socialisation. Activities such as looking through a photo album, watching a familiar film together or listening to a favourite piece of music can all be excellent for starting conversations and encouraging socialisation with your loved one.
As communication can sometimes be difficult, it can help to take part in activities to encourage socialisation naturally and prevent any forced conversations which could be stressful. Taking part in dementia activities based around reminiscence and sensory exploration are great for encouraging socialisation. Why not ask gentle questions about a familiar place, person or perhaps even use a loved ones perfume and ask what they remember of that smell.
Don’t Force it
It is important to remember not to force socialisation if your loved one is not feeling up to it as this can sometimes have a negative effect. It may cause stress and worry which could then prevent further socialisation in the future. Make sure that your loved one is feeling positive and motivated when encouraging socialisation; mornings often present better times as later in the day your loved one may become more tired and could be less likely to want to take part in activities.