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Can Social Isolation Cause Dementia?

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The connection between social isolation and dementia is clear. However, no one has been able to give a direct answer to the question of which one comes first. Many seniors are already isolated before their dementia diagnosis, and research has shown that a senior with symptoms that affect the ability to communicate clearly and remember things is more likely to be isolated. While it may still be a while before scientists determine which one comes first, you can address both of these issues before they affect your aging loved one’s quality of life.

Understand the “Use It or Lose It” Concept

Cognitive skills are just like any other type of skill. Over time, they can be lost if a person is unable to use them regularly. Look at your loved one’s brain as a muscle and make sure he or she has the opportunity to rely on memory skills to tell a story or recall someone’s name. Isolation makes it challenging for seniors to use their brains as much as is necessary to prevent dementia. By making sure your loved one has people to talk to, you can be certain he or she receives the stimulation needed to prevent dementia. 

If your loved one is already facing the challenges of dementia, social interaction is still vital for boosting cognitive health. Aging in place can present a few challenges for seniors living with dementia. However, they can still live independently at home with the help of professional dementia home care. Rockwall families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide their elderly loved ones with mental and social stimulation, timely medication reminders, assistance with meal prep, and much more. Our caregivers are available around the clock to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life.

Consider the Connection to Other Health Conditions

Dementia is linked to diabetes, heart disease, and other health conditions that reduce blood flow to the brain. Seniors who are isolated tend to overlook the importance of taking care of their health, or they may be unable to properly manage their treatment plans. For example, seniors in the early stages of heart disease may think no one cares if they exercise or eat right if they never see anyone. Over time, this type of health neglect causes health conditions to get worse, which can impact the risk for developing dementia. 

If your loved one has health issues and is starting to avoid interaction with others, he or she may benefit from having a trained professional caregiver close by. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of home care. Rockwall families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.

Watch Out for Negative Behaviors

Isolation generates feelings of loneliness and depression that seniors may try to mask with negative behaviors such as smoking or drinking too much alcohol. Both of these behaviors restrict blood flow to the brain, which further increases the risk of developing dementia symptoms. If your loved one spends a large part of the day alone, watch for signs of unhealthy habits so you can help him or her connect with other people who dissipate feelings of loneliness.

Find Ways to Increase Socialization

It doesn’t take much to eliminate the risks associated with isolation. Plan for your loved one to have regular lunch dates with a caregiver, or set up his or her phone to make video calls to friends and family. Even something as simple as having transportation to the grocery store opens up new opportunities for your loved one to engage with others throughout the day. While it may seem small at first, you’ll notice great leaps in your loved one’s mood and cognitive abilities as he or she begins to get back out there and engage with other people.

Whether or not social isolation leads to dementia, it’s best for overall health if seniors have high levels of social engagement. Seniors who already have dementia can boost their cognitive health by interacting regularly with other people. If your loved one is starting to isolate him or herself, you may want to consider hiring a professional caregiver. An important part of home care involves social stimulation and encouraging seniors to engage in social activity. Reach out to us at Rockwall Home Care Assistance if you need compassionate, professional care for your loved one. Call one of our dedicated Care Managers today at (972) 722-7833 to learn about the high quality of our in-home care services.