International Day of Friendship July 30th – Combating Loneliness for People Affected by Dementia.
International Day of Friendship highlights the importance of being connected, as good friends can make great support systems, who we share our highs and lows with. However, maintaining friendships and personal relationships following a diagnosis of dementia yourself, or a friend or family member receiving the diagnosis can become trickier to navigate.
Dementia and Loneliness
For the person receiving the diagnosis of dementia, feelings of fear, uncertainty and anxiety may occur, which often results in social withdrawal. Additionally, as the dementia progresses it may become harder to recollect whether you have spent time with friends or family members (however, this will vary from person to person).
Dementia can alter the dynamics of relationships, and can therefore have a large impact on friends and family, especially when caring roles may see-saw as seen in children who become their parent carer. Carers may find less time for themselves as their caring responsibilities increase, while often maintaining their own jobs, and potentially families, leading to the all too well-known carer burnout.
However, power can be regained by those experiencing loneliness!
Tips on reigniting social connections.
1. Join a peer support group:
- Peer support groups offer the opportunity to talk to individuals in similar positions to yourself. You may find relief in talking to people who can relate to you, all while developing a new support system to meet your needs.
- However, not all social groups need to be centered around your diagnosis or caring role. Becoming a member of any social group, or taking part in one-off workshops can be a great way of meeting people with similar interests. There are often crafting, music, reading and exercise groups available for people of all ages and all abilities.
2. Give back to your community:
- Volunteering within your local community can be a great way to feel engaged, and is often a very rewarding experience. Whether it is volunteering with a local charity shop, taking part in beach and nature path clean ups or knitting products to donate, there is something for everyone!
3. Think about what brings you joy:
- When we feel down and withdrawn, it can be hard to find joy. However, if you once enjoyed gardening, visiting the theatre, or had any other hobbies, try to implement these activities into the new chapter of your life.
A list of social groups can be found on the Dementia Friendly Swansea website under ‘What’s On’.
It is important to be kind to yourself, and become in-tune with what your body needs, whether that be alone time, having friends over for a cuppa, or a day out.
As life changes, it may seem more difficult to keep engaged, however there are support services and strategies available:
- Applying for a blue badge can ensure you are able to park conveniently, and sometimes at a discounted rate. Additionally in some areas, there are accessible taxi services.
- Making sure you receive a benefit entitlement check could help towards cost of transport, day services, or cost of care cover.
- If you have received a diagnosis of early onset dementia, you can reach out to the Dementia Hwb for our Buddy Scheme, where you will be put in contact with Dawn. Dawn received her diagnosis and is keen to support people in similar situations.
- If you have a diagnosis of dementia, and would like someone to accompany you to a new social group, carers can be appointed, whether it be via the third sector or paid for care.
- If you are over 70 and would rather speak to someone over the phone, you can register for weekly friendship calls via Age Cymru.
- If you are a carer of a person with dementia, you can reach out to befriending services or paid-for care to be with your cared-for to offer you time for respite.
Article by Abigail Davies
You Are Not Alone
Remember, you are not alone. If you have concerns about your memory, care for someone with dementia or are looking for additional information and advice the Dementia Hwb is here for you. You can visit the Hwb 7 days a week between 11am-3pm, call us on 01792 304519 or email us on email@example.com. We can also offer memory assessments with the Community Memory Support Team for Swansea Bay University Health Board. This is not a diagnosis but instead designed for people without a diagnosis who are worried about their memory to see if they need further referral to a GP or alternate memory test.