According to reports, there are 10 million new cases of dementia per year. The number of people with dementia is forecasted to triple in the next two decades. The impacts of dementia can be unsettling. It is known to create a slew of physical and mental changes within a person. In other words, they can turn into a different, much less loveable person.
Despite health experts encouraging seniors to socialize as much as possible during their retirement years, numerous seniors with dementia refuse to leave their houses or cut off contact with friends and family. Socialization or being around people is the key to mitigating the negative impact of aging, preventing illnesses, and having a longer and healthier life. Let’s dive into the connection between socialization and dementia and how being socially active can enhance the lives of those with dementia.
What Can Socialization Do About Dementia?
Understanding Dementia: Everything You Need To Know
Dementia is a brain syndrome that destroys different parts of the brain, particularly the hippocampus responsible for forming and recalling memories. Loss of nerve cells and disconnectedness between brain cells often derail a person’s normal brain functioning. It means a person may lose memory, thinking skills, and logical reasoning, deterring them from handling daily tasks and pursuing certain activities.
In contrast to the common belief that all seniors will eventually encounter dementia sooner or later, health experts have disclosed that dementia is somewhat abnormal. Most people consider dementia a memory loss. However, that definition is too simplistic. Unlike the forgetfulness that we all experience occasionally, dementia is challenging because seniors can even forget basic life skills such as holding utensils or drinking water.
This explains why unmonitored dementia can suck the life out of seniors as the disease progresses. For example, forgetting to eat can lead to malnutrition, forcing seniors into vulnerable situations where they lack the energy to care for themselves. Over time, nutrient deficiencies increase their risks of developing life-threatening health conditions. In addition to physical discomfort, dementia can also stir up seniors’ moods and behaviors, making them more likely to have anger outbursts and irrational emotions.
Dementia and Socialization: What Is The Connection?
No matter what age, everyone is encouraged to mingle with others and strengthen their social ties. For ages, socialization has been acclaimed to bring many benefits to our lives. For example, children develop their language and social skills early by interacting with the outside world and others. Adults rely on human connections to pave the way to new life stages, obtain new skills, and achieve optimal personal growth.
Numerous studies have pointed out that dementia seniors need socialization to combat the harmful effects of the disease and remain healthy in the long run. Being socially active is beneficial for the minds and bodies of seniors dealing with dementia. It helps them to promote a sense of belonging, security, identity, and purpose amid the disease progression. It also supports their self-esteem and confidence.
Top Benefits of Socialization for Dementia Seniors
Socialization Preserves Brain Health
Socialization isn’t only fun, but it also supports the brain health of dementia seniors in the long run. Dementia is a disease that occurs when the nervous system is damaged. That’s why the brain also requires constant attention throughout a lifetime to maintain optimal functioning, much like the body. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health has demonstrated that women with extensive social connections have reduced dementia risk by 26%. Supporting brain health could mean many things, such as eating a nutritious diet and staying physically active. In dementia seniors, increasing social cohesion and expanding the social network is also a form of brain exercise in addition to brain-stimulating activities. When seniors exercise their brains, recalling memories, solving problems, and other cognitive tasks becomes much easier.
Socialization Increases Awareness
Chronic brain damage can cause significant memory shifts in seniors. Fluctuating or hazy memories make distinguishing between past and present difficult for most seniors. In other words, they may struggle to connect the dots of what is going on at the moment. Bouncing between the past and the present can produce paranoia and hallucinations. This explains why a large number of seniors with dementia may act out of their character or become violent. Connecting with others is sufficient for seniors with dementia to improve awareness, retake control of their surroundings, better focus on the present, sharpen mental integrity, and eliminate wandering thoughts and confusion. As a result, getting a hold of their emotions becomes more manageable.
Socialization Improves A Sense of Time and Place
It is normal to get lost in the moment, but the concept of time can be non-existent in many seniors who have dementia. They can lose track of time, dates, and seasons, resulting in an increased need for assistance to maintain everyday life’s structure. That’s why forgetting appointments or being unable to make sense of time are the subtle signs of dementia every child should watch out for. While these issues can be corrected by setting reminders or hiring caregivers, dementia is so heartbreaking that seniors can’t recognize their loved ones as the disease worsens. Getting out and about and striking up a conversation with others can help seniors strengthen their connection with time, place, and people around them.
Socialization Reduces Loneliness
When seniors have dementia, feelings of loneliness are inevitable. Seniors can feel out of touch and start withdrawing from crowds, friends, and family members for many reasons. They could feel like no one cares about them or understands what they are going through. Miscommunication is another cause of seniors’ loneliness. Loneliness can be decreased by spending more time outdoors, visiting friends and family members, or simply walking around the neighborhood. All of these socialization activities can support seniors greatly in reconnecting with their environment and overcoming feelings of despair, contributing to overall well-being and lowering the risks of age-related conditions like stroke and high blood pressure.
Facts You Need To Know About Dementia
- 55 million people live with dementia worldwide.
- Dementia is currently the seventh leading cause of death.
- Dementia developed before age 65 is early onset dementia.
- Dementia mostly affects older adults, but not every senior will have dementia.
- There is no definite cure for dementia, but early diagnosis and prompt interventions can help delay the disease’s progression.
- Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia.
- Dementia is associated with memory loss, not the other way around.
- Dementia doesn’t discriminate between races, ethnicities, and social status.
If you have questions about dementia and socialization or any topics discussed here, connect with us and learn more.
At 12 Oaks, our team of caring professionals is dedicated to keeping residents safe, engaged, and connected to their families and friends while leading fulfilling lives. 12 Oaks Senior Living Communities are an ideal place to enjoy the encore season of life.
For questions or to schedule a personalized tour, don’t hesitate to contact us.
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