Receiving a dementia diagnosis can be quite isolating. Stigma still exists in communities and many individuals lose their friends as a result of this. This not only affects persons living with dementia but also their care partners and relatives. It is important to recognize the need for maintaining connections to your community to face dementia head on and continue living a good life.
Dementia is not a barrier, we should open others' minds to realize that dementia presents itself differently in everybody and maintaining social connections and involvement in communities can assist with the progression and help reduce cognitive decline.
Individuals who are diagnosed with dementia might receive strange behaviours from others and might want to retract from their community and no longer participate in hobbies they have always participated in. If you recognize this, look for opportunities in your community, whether it be an exercise group, support group, book club, or social opportunity. Joining a group will help to offer that sense of belonging and gain new friends you might have never met before.
For care partners, this time can also be isolating. You might lose friends as they do not know how to interact with your relative or are not educated on what dementia really is. A safe place to connect with others is through support groups, whether online or in person. These can be a great place to share, gain support, and talk to others who are experiencing a similar situation. Social groups are also a great space, joining a crafting group, social group, or exercise group is a great opportunity to be social while enjoying something with others who have similar interests. Everyone is going through something, so sharing your story can really help to get support. If you don't have time to attend a support group, contacting your local Alzheimer Society is a great opportunity to gain access to more resources and find support that you can easily integrate into your busy schedule.
While dementia might feel isolating, care partners and persons living with dementia express that it also provides an opportunity for them to meet new people, become more educated on the disease and educate others, and become even more involved with their communities than they were before.
What do you do in your community to stay involved? Share with us in the comments below!