Socialization is something that everyone needs to stay healthy and happy. Social needs for dementia patients, however, are even more critical to overall health. Socializing provides those with dementia a way to stay connected to the here and now.
How Does Socialization Help Dementia Patients?
For a person who is experiencing dementia, socialization is much more than just interacting with people. Socialization is interacting with people, places, and things. It is an awareness experience that keeps the person in the present instead of "wandering off" into their own thoughts.
A person with dementia often drifts between the past and the present. They often daydream as a way to try to remember or to reconnect with the present. Socializing allows these individuals a way to reconnect with the present in a controlled fashion.
It is also important for caregivers to recognize signs of over-stimulation in those who have dementia. Too many new faces, too much interaction with new objects or places, can become overwhelming. This can cause anxiety and stress in the patient and cause them to become secluded in their thoughts. This is counteractive to what socialization is supposed to enhance.
Our assisted living for seniors with dementia program focuses on keeping each of our clients comfortable when they are socializing while encouraging them to experience new things. It is our goal to keep every patient interactive without causing anxiety.
Top Five Benefits of Socialization for Dementia Patients
- The Feeling of Self Worth
Interacting with family, friends, and meeting new people gives everyone a sense of self-worth. Even interacting with pets or service animals is conducive to feelings of self-worth. When a person feels self-worth, they are less anxious and can remain focused for longer periods of time.
- Decreased Sense of Loneliness
Loneliness is a very complex emotion. A person does not just feel only when they are by themselves. A person can feel lonely when they feel "out of place" or as if they do not belong in a group or conversation. A person can feel lonely if they feel displaced from a situation or are having a hard time participating in an activity. By using controlled socialization, you can help a dementia patient overcome their feeling of loneliness and despair. This will be beneficial to their overall well-being.
- Increased Awareness
When a person is socializing, even if it is just playing a game, they are more focused on the here-and-now. This focus helps keep their brain sharp and gives the patient a feeling of empowerment. Socializing, even in the most basic sense, helps strengthen the bran and increases the ability to manage emotions.
- Supports Brain Health
Your brain is a muscle. Like all muscles in your body, your brain needs activity to stay fit. One of the biggest benefits of socialization for dementia patients is a positive effect on the brain. When the brain is continually stimulated, activities like retaining memories comes easier to the patient.
- Creates Overall Happiness
Dementia is very frustrating for the patient. It is a loss of control, and it can make a person feel helpless. Some people with dementia will lash out in anger. They are not angry at anyone; they are just frustrated by the restrictions that dementia has placed on their lives. When you keep a person with dementia active and socializing with people, pets, and projects, you give them back control of their thoughts, and this, in turn, creates happiness.
Dementia Patients Also Need More Than Socialization To Remain Healthy
Dementia is a unique condition because it affects each person differently. Since symptoms are often the same, dementia is often categorized as one type of disease. In truth, dementia has many facets, and the medical industry is only just beginning to learn what causes dementia and the best treatments.
In addition to the benefits of socialization for dementia patients, these same patients benefit from healthy meals and proper hydration. Sadly, dementia can take away people's ability to remember what they should eat, how often they eat, or if they are staying hydrated. Dementia care must include good nutrition for the patient.
Socialization, combined with good nutrition and a caring place to live, can help a person with dementia manage their condition much easier. In many cases, it can help slow the disease's progression and help those with advanced cases retain some of their cognitive functions.
Dementia is a very hard disease for both the patient and their loved ones. Losing memories is devastating, and many people feel as the loss of these memories also causes the loss of themselves. Family members can become distant because of the heartbreak that the loss of memory causes. Struggling with dementia is as hard as watching your loved one struggle.
Ensuring that your loved one has the right care for their dementia is a critical part of their care. Most people are not well-equipped to provide the 24-hour care necessary for dementia patients, especially as the disease progresses. It will be necessary to find a quality facility for assisted living for seniors with dementia to help with your loved one's care.
Providing the right care, making sure that your loved one is actively socializing, and knowing that they are receiving the nutrition and health care that they need not only benefits the patient, it is also beneficial to the family. It is not easy caring for someone with dementia. It is even harder placing your loved one in the care of another person. However, getting your loved one the help they need is always the right thing to do.