• Karen McPhail

The Importance of Socialization As We Grow Older!

People manifest signs of cognitive impairment in many ways.  Some people become forgetful, have short term memory issues, or even abrupt changes in their behavior.  Others simply begin to withdraw socially.  Isolation, withdrawal and loneliness is a huge problem for older adults, especially those with cognitive impairments.  Sometimes people begin to notice their own cognitive changes and become frightened to go out, self conscious or worried that they will be judged by others. This is the worst possible situation for someone with a cognitive impairment as we are all social beings that need to be engaged, require socialization, and support.  Being at home alone, isolated or with limited  stimulation can cause cognitive expedited decline.  Socialization, routine, and support are critical for those with cognitive impairments.  

If you notice a partner or friend beginning down this path, provide support and assistance:

1.  Spend time with them and provide an opportunity to talk and more importantly listen.  Do they seem to struggle to find the right words?  Do they seem sad?  Do you see a change in their behavior? Try to focus on the feeling and emotions being conveyed.

2.  Encourage a physician visit to assess their condition further and assist with medication management / adjustment.  We can assist in finding an inclusive care provider - see our resources section. An anti depressant may be considered and be of benefit.  Some times a physician that does house calls can be a terrific and non threatening way to start this process.  Several inclusive visiting physicians provide services in Northern, VA and the DC metro area! Establishing trust is key!

3.  Try to encourage socialization on their terms each week:

- A weekly lunch with friends during a quiet time of the day.

- A trip to the hair dresser and / or spa

- Memory cafe meetings with a friend or partner.

- Programs through a memory care out patient center or adult day care (check your local area via internet search) 

-  If requiring help at home ensure that you have an inclusive care provider agency and that the private duty caregiver understands how to properly assist in maintaining a structured routine at home.  Establish a home environment that is frustration free and supports independence and orientation. Have a time set for structured and engaging activities based on their preferences and abilities - dementia games, cards, crafts, baking with supervision, large puzzles, etc.   

- If behavioral challenges emerge or additional guidance is needed seek assistance through an RN care manager!

Feel free to contact us for guidance as we are here to help!

Routine, appropriate stimulation, and socialization will make all the difference!


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