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Social Activities & Interactions Tips for Dementia

Did you know?

Local senior centers and Area Agencies on Aging can provide information about social activities and events that are available to seniors.

Throughout our lives, we interact with friends, family, and strangers on a daily basis. It is important that persons with dementia continue to have these sort of meaningful encounters, even as their disease progresses. While it is true that your loved one may have trouble retaining memories or remembering his or her own loved ones, he or she can still recognize the attention, feelings, and moods of others.

Interacting with people who have dementia can often be hardest for those who know them best, specifically friends and family, who knew what they were like "before." Many of these people don’t know what to think of or how they can interact with someone who might not even recognize them anymore. To learn more about communicating with people with dementia or how to help prepare others for socializing with your loved one, visit our page on communication.

Suggestions for Caregivers

Here are a few helpful tips that can make sure each visit with your loved one goes as smoothly as possible:

  • Choose the Best Time and Place

    Social visits should be planned for the times when your loved one is feeling their best. Visits should occur in environments that are not too crowded or busy.

  • Plan Ahead

    Make sure that friend and familiy have appropriate expectations by explaining the nature of the disease and what to expect as it progresses. Prepare visitors by informing them of how the mind and behavior of your loved one has changed. Prepare some sort of activity that can be shared during a visit, such as singing a song, looking through old photo albums, or taking a walk, as this can give your loved one something to focus upon. If there are pictures of the person(s), offer them to your loved one as a visual reminder to who is coming to visit.

  • Know How to Interact

    Make sure that whoever is interacting with your loved one knows how he or she can best communicate with the person with dementia. Let visitors know that they should go with the flow and try to follow these guidelines:

    • Avoid talking in loud voices
    • Talk slowly and avoid quick phrases.
    • Be prepared for emotional outbursts and if there are some, speak calmly
    • Keep eye contact
    • Identify the person with dementia by name, so that he or she knows when someone addresses him or her
    • Be prepared to repeat themselves
    • Use commonly used words or phrases
    • Use props and objects if needed
    • Be prepared for the person with dementia to forget what he or she just said or get confused easily
    • Look interested

    Remind them that they are not only important to you for their presence and support, but that they are still important and vital people in the life of your loved one.

Resources

Remain Socially Active

Source: Alzheimer's Association
Description: This web page discusses the results of a recent study reporting that activities that engage a person socially, mentally, and physically are most likely to prevent dementia. It also offers tips on staying socially active and provides links to various organizations that provide social opportunities.

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Brain Health

Source: Alz.org
Description: This series of web pages describes how to reduce your chance of developing Alzheimer's disease by maintaining a healthy brain. It discusses lifestyle choices - such as exercising, being social, and reducing stress - that people can make to keep their brain healthy as they age.

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