World Friendship Day: Dementia And Friendship

It’s World Friendship Day on 30 July and this year Theresa McNally, Creative Practice Manager at national dementia care specialist Vida Healthcare, shares her tips on how to communicate with someone living with dementia and build connections.

  1. Communicate effectively: Communicating with someone living with dementia can be challenging, especially for those living through the later stages. Explore ways for people to express themselves and connect through alternative methods of communication. This can be anything from picture and word charts and dancing, to puppets and doll therapy.
  2. Encourage communication: It’s not only important to communicate effectively, but to encourage people living with dementia to communicate as much as possible. However this can be tricky so make sure you give them enough time to respond and encourage them to join in conversations. It’s also a good idea to let them speak for themselves and be positive.
  3. Have fun: There are numerous studies which have found that laughter is good for us, from relieving stress to helping us live longer and this is no different for people living with dementia. Whether it’s talking about a funny event, taking part in fun activities together, or laughing about misunderstandings, humour can help to relieve tension and build friendships.
  4. Learn more about dementia: If you don’t know much about dementia it can be tricky to maintain or build relationships with a friend or loved one who’s been diagnosed. Learn more about the illness and the different ways it can affect people. Understand that although your loved one might be different, it’s important to embrace and accept this.
  5. It’s not about ‘fixing’: Overcome the mindset of fixing someone living with dementia. Instead we should understand their needs and respect them, and adapt our behaviour to work for them. Remember the symptoms of dementia which people may consider as needing to be fixed, are often just a reaction to the environment they’re in.

Dementia is a progressive illness that, over time, affects a person’s ability to remember and understand basic everyday facts. It can also gradually affect how people communicate and their ability to present rational ideas and reason clearly.

Friendship and connection is crucial for people living with dementia, so this World Friendship Day why not reach out to a loved one, or consider new ways of connecting with the people you care for?

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