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Isolation and Dementia: Knowing The Harm

January 7, 2020

Many caregivers take care of individuals with dementia. Thus, whether you are a family caregiver or otherwise, it’s necessary to be aware that isolation can be affecting those that you care for. Isolation  harms individuals in many different ways. But, for those with dementia the harmful effects can be even more impactful.

According to some studies, there will be an estimated 150 million people affected by dementia. Hence, with this rise in the amount of individuals expected to face dementia, it’s imperative to make sure that risk factors that lead to isolation are combated. This is because those with dementia already have decreased cognitive function, and isolation can make it worse.

Social Isolation as Aging Adults

Oftentimes, as we begin to grow older we become more socially isolated naturally. This can be for many different reasons. Some people have moved far away from family, others begin to have physical impairments that keep them from going out and socializing. Whatever the reason, social isolation isn’t good for people of any age or for extended periods of time. We are naturally social creatures and thrive on social interactions.

Social isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness and being generally disconnected from the world. Many different studies have shown the negative impacts that isolation can have on quality of life. Hence, if you happen to care for an individual living with dementia or Alzheimers disease, the detrimental effects are twofold. This is because social interactions are one of the things that combat and delay cognitive decline and the onset of dementia. And beyond that, studies found that a lack of social relationships (that can come from social interactions) actually have a correlation to cognitive impairment. This is especially important to note in the cases of individuals that are at increased risk of dementia or have higher risk factors for dementia.

Avoiding Isolation

Thankfully, research suggests there are small ways of combating isolation that can make big impacts. One big step to avoiding isolation for older people with dementia is moving closer to family members. One can also join support groups, senior groups, or other organizations tailored to those with dementia.

Combating loneliness and social isolation can even come in the form of going for daily walks to the park or mall and interacting with people in that way. Though more of a superficial interaction it can still make a difference in the lives of those that may be feeling lonely and isolated. Contact with people is a necessary part of life. You have to find what you and the person you care for find most comfortable and sustainable. Whatever you do choose should be something that can be consistent. Thus, that is when you will see the most benefit.

Conclusion

Isolation and a lack of social interaction are harmful to all individuals. And for individuals with dementia it’s all the more serious. Therefore one needs to make sure that isolation for these individuals is counteracted by other means, like those mentioned above. You want to do what is best for your parent. That way, there will be no component of care that you may have over looked.

We at Homecare Powered by AUAF wants you to be prepared to care for your loved ones. We understand the worries that you may have when it comes to caring for an elderly parent. If you have any questions for us give us a call at 773.274.9262. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6721226/

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