Guest blogger Ralph Patrick is the Boulder County Regional Director for the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado. 

There are four key components for living well with dementia;  Diet, Exercise, Cognitive Stimulation, and Socialization.  Far too frequently this last item gets overlooked.  There are numerous possibilities for why this might be the case.

The person with the diagnosis may feel more anxious around others or in unfamiliar situations.  They might not be able to follow conversations as easily as before. Perhaps there could be a sense of embarrassment or even shame. Or they simply might be too tired.

Caregivers might not have the necessary energy, be it physical or emotional, to engage in social events.  They also might feel embarrassed or even stigmatized, or as if others simply don’t understand.  They might not be able to participate at the same level as they previously did.  Or they might not get the same satisfaction as they had in the past due to their partner’s inability to participate at the same level.

Whatever the reason may be, it is ESSENTIAL for both the person living with the diagnosis as well as the care partner to continue to interact socially.  Doing so lifts moods, reinforces a sense of normally, allows access to the support of others, provides a welcome and very necessary diversion from one’s daily routine, and is cognitively stimulating.

When determining what type of social activity to participate in, it is essential to keep in mind that smaller, quieter, and less distracting situations may be best. For more information on living with dementia and tips for care partners please visit the Alzheimer’s Association website or call 800 272 3900.

— Ralph Patrick