Socialization is important for people with dementia

RACHAEL PODCAST COVER – Season 4

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Jean had become pretty isolated in Assisted Living, Her dementia had progressed, and suddenly the other women were picking on her about it. Because she did not live in a Dementia Care environment, Jean’s peers were nothing like her. She stopped coming to meals, and she stopped going on outings—two things she had previously enjoyed. 

We had two buildings right next to each other: a dementia-specific community (where I worked) and then a typical assisted living building next-door. Jean had been living in the assisted living side for a couple years, but her dementia had gotten progressively worse. Eventually, it just didn’t make sense for her to stay in assisted living. 

I convinced Jean’s daughter to move her to my dementia care community so that we could “try it out.” On the first day she moved, I was actually able to take her out to lunch with a few of my other residents. She fit in perfectly: it was like she’d been there the whole time.

No longer was Jean isolated by her peers. Because she now lived in a dementia-specific community, her peers were much like she was. In fact, they didn’t even notice that Jean was confused. To them, she was like anyone else: a perfectly happy, normal person. 

Seeing her come out of her shell reminded me of how important socialization is. We need to be around people who support us, and this is particularly true of people with dementia.

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Rachael Wonderlin is an internationally-recognized dementia care expert and consultant. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of two published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.

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