The Importance of Connection in Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care

Posted by in Mind and Spirit.

Don’t you love it when you meet someone and have an immediate connection? There is something quite comforting in finding another human who shares the same background, favorite food, or even similar quirks. At Senior Lifestyle we’ve often noticed a common thread when families tour our communities: we ALL want to feel connected to the people around us, to discover a mutual interest or friend, and to feel a bond with our neighbors. Visitors to our communities often remark on the strong sense of family they see between residents and staff, and many times that sense of family is a deciding factor in their decision to move into a community. A recent visitor noted that his time at our community reminded him of a family reunion he attended this summer where he re-connected with cousins he hadn’t seen in over forty years. He said of their shared memories, “I realized that although we are separated by distance, our memories of childhood still connect us in a very tangible way.”

Researchers have found that social connections are healthy in ways we didn’t previously understand. Strong social connections have proven to lessen the risk of some forms of dementia, as well as mitigating the early effects of cognitive impairment in some people. Unfortunately, in the early stages of dementia, the person suffering often withdraws socially due to a fear of humiliation, isolating themselves in an effort to “cover” the emerging symptoms. It is especially important for friends and family to continue to stay connected and continue to engage their loved one during this time, but it is usually quite difficult to do so in the face of the progressing illness.

How do we stay connected when communication becomes difficult due to Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia? In many instances, communication becomes stressful for the person with dementia as they struggle to interpret verbal cues. Due to this, non-verbal communication, in the form of touch and eye contact, becomes vitally important. Learning to interact with a loved one suffering from dementia can make caregiving more fulfilling and less frustrating for both the caregiver and the cared for, leading to better engagement and quality of life.

At Senior Lifestyle, we’ve created a unique memory care philosophy, embrace. The embrace program combines the most recent research in the field of memory care with the real world best practices identified by Senior Lifestyle, which has worked with those that affected by Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia for over three decades. The guiding principles of embrace – Wellness, Enrichment, Challenge, Connection and Creativity – provide the foundation for Senior Lifestyle’s memory care philosophy, focused on creating a sustained, holistic approach to connecting with memory care residents on an individual level. If you’d like more information on how to truly connect with a loved one suffering from dementia, or would like to learn more about embrace, please visit our website. We’d love to connect with you!

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