If you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, one of the things you might worry about is their loneliness and social isolation. After all, if they can’t remember how to reach out to people, it isn’t easy to know how they are feeling and whether they are still in touch with friends or family members they haven’t seen in some time. Fortunately, there are several ways to reduce loneliness in seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia that can help prevent these feelings from impacting their well-being and happiness over time. Here are some of the best tips on how to how to reduce loneliness.
Get Outside and Enjoy Nature
The easiest way to reduce loneliness in seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is to encourage spending time in nature. Doing so has been shown to improve mood, promote relaxation, and increase longevity. Spending time outdoors while participating in community events also has a host of cognitive benefits for older adults. The natural environment provides endless stimulation, especially for those living with memory loss. The sights, sounds, smells, and textures found outside have been shown to enhance learning.
Engage in a Hobby or Craft Together
This is a great time to reconnect with one of your loved one’s passions. If they were once very interested in painting, for example, try getting some oil paints out again and working on a few canvases together. Don’t feel pressured to create something that looks amazing—it doesn’t matter if it isn’t perfect! Just spending quality time together doing something you both enjoyed in the past can go a long way toward reducing feelings of loneliness. You can even invite another family member or friend over to help pass along some of your responsibilities as well. As you get more comfortable, take things up a notch by asking them for input on improving their current masterpiece.
Coordinate Family or Friend Visits
Plan visits or calls with family and friends to make sure that they coordinate their visits to maximize time spent with your loved one. For example, if one family member is visiting on Saturday afternoon and another is coming by on Sunday morning, then that’s when you’ll want to put in a call from a friend or visit from a grandchild. Keeping track of these different times will ensure that your loved one never feels alone for too long. And if it turns out she does start feeling lonely, there are ways to help keep her engaged and distracted so she doesn’t have time to think about being alone for long periods of time.
Get Support for Mental Health
It is important for both you and your loved one to have an outlet to help reduce loneliness. Having a social support network that includes others who are going through similar things may greatly help in reducing feelings of loneliness. You can find local support groups online or in your area by contacting your local care center, library, mental health clinic, or other resources for seniors in your area.