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Social interactions can play a huge role in the lives of those suffering from Alzheimer’s.  From scientific research to real-life examples, it is clear that socialization can benefit those with Alzheimer’s.  How exactly can socializing be beneficial, how can one best facilitate this socialization, and how do we implement this into daily life in our memory care homes?  We’re answering all those questions below to paint a clear picture of the connection between socialization and Alzheimer’s. 

 

Benefits of Socialization with Alzheimer’s 

There are a number of ways social interactions can influence individuals with memory impairment. First off, socialization can help to lower the risk of even developing Alzheimer’s.  One study found that individuals who were lonely were at significantly higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s later in life.

 

For those who already have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, social interactions can be extremely beneficial as well.  Socialization is an extremely powerful tool in preventing age-related cognitive decline.  Social activities support brain health.  They stimulate the brain and can help to slow cognitive decline in older adults.  On the flip side of that, social isolation has been found time and time again to have negative impacts on cognitive functioning. Isolati

 

on can impact both physical and mental health, and can worsen cognitive impairment.  Keeping individuals with Alzheimers’s connected with others and preventing isolation can be a huge key to improving their quality of life and maintaining as much cognitive functioning as possible. 

 

Tips for Socialization with Individuals with Alzheimer’s

Those who do not have experience interacting with individuals with Alzheimer’s may wonder the best way to do so.  It can be intimidating at first, but encouraging social interactions can be very enjoyable for everyone! 

 

It is important to plan social activities and visits at times that are best for the memory-impaired individuals.  If there are certain times of day they tend to be feeling better, keep that in mind. You never want social interactions to become a dreaded chore or an impossible challenge because the timing is wrong. 

 

There are a wide range of social activities that can be fun and engaging for all involved.  Games are a great way to keep everybody engaged, stimulating the mind while allowing for social time as well.  Organized clubs or groups can also offer a great social atmosphere for those with Alzheimer’s.  They provide structured and consistent opportunities for socialization that can be extremely beneficial. 

 

Also, remember to honor the individuality and personal preferences of each person. People will always be more engaged in social activities that are meaningful to them. Plan activities that cater to each individual’s strengths and incorporate things they are fond of.  For instance, think of art projects for those who are more creative, or outdoor activities for those who enjoy nature. 

 

Socialization in Dolan Memory Care Homes

Knowing the importance of social interaction for those with memory impairments, we put a big emphasis on social activities in all of our memory care homes. Our homes are designed to truly feel like home, with large open gathering spaces and plenty of common rooms for residents to interact in. Each Dolan Memory Care home also never houses more than 10-11 residents. This small group setting gives all our residents a chance to build relationships and socialize in a calm and manageable setting. With the small number of residents living in each home, we can provide higher quality social opportunities than big-box homes can. 

 

In addition to the design and structure of our homes, we also facilitate social interactions in other ways.  Our activities teams work tirelessly to provide varied and interesting organized activities for our residents to take part in.  Residents can participate in everything from bingo to card games to walking club! Making sure the activities are unique and interesting to our residents encourages more socialization and participation. 

 

Every decision we make is with our residents’ and their families’ best interests in mind.  Since we are well aware of the vast positive impacts socialization can have for those with Alzheimer’s, we will continue to emphasize social activities and interaction in our homes. 

 

Sources: 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5764000/ 

https://alzheimersprevention.org/the-power-of-socialization/ 

https://www.alz.org/help-support/brain_health/stay_mentally_and_socially_active