An article (McKnight’s Long Term Newsletter) covered a report of a recent survey of over 18,500 individuals, aged 65 or older. According the report, those individuals who reported feeling socially isolated were “significantly more likely to be admitted to a hospital or emergency department in the future,” according to David Mosen, Ph.D., MPH of Kaiser Permanent Center for Health Research.
Other studies have found a similar correlation between social isolation, often experienced by seniors living alone, and emotional and physical health issues. This can be especially challenging for those living with dementia. Social isolation can fuel feelings of uncertainty and anxiety which can, in turn, impact cognition and memory.
Providing an environment that is specifically organized around individuals with memory loss and cognitive issues can provide the social interaction that is so important to physical and emotional health. Benefits can include the following:
- Improved brain health. Studies have shown that, especially in earlier stages of Alzheimer’s disease, those individuals with a broader base of social experiences may help slow down the progression of memory loss.
- Heightened ability to focus. We know that individuals challenged with dementia have more difficulty handling the transitions between a sleep and wakeful state. Those who are able to socially engage often find that these transitions become easier, which can be helpful to accomplish the basic daily tasks of living and self care.
- Greater sense of belonging and being included. Regular interaction with others, regardless of whether active or passive, helps to stimulate a greater sense of purpose and personal worth.
- Improved connection to the “here and now”. The sense of normalcy and structure that comes with regular social interaction has been known to stimulate areas of the brain that connect us to time and place, where otherwise there may be a sense of living on a continuum with no logical start and end points.
At our Anthem Memory Care communities, we understand the devastating impact isolation has on individuals with dementia. We also understand how the pandemic has further complicated how families are able to interact with older loved ones.
That is why our programs include daily socialization for all our residents, all the while ensuring that our staff and residents are adhering to the CDC best practices, making it part of our daily mission to keep all our residents and staff safe and healthy. We know that finding ways, even during the pandemic, to connect our residents with staff and with their families, helps them live a more purposeful life.
If you have a loved one living with dementia who may be experiencing isolation it is so important to find ways to connect him/her to others. Please feel free to reach out to us and consider Anthem a resource for you during these challenging times. We’ll be happy to share with you all that we are doing to keep residents safe, yet connected to the world around them.
[The image above is of a rousing game of croquet, enjoyed by the residents and staff at Chelsea Place Memory Care in Aurora, Colorado.