Dementia Patients and Caregivers Struggle with Waning Social Lives! Know more

Dementia Patients and Caregivers Struggle
Dementia Patients and Caregivers Struggle. Credit | Shutterstock

United States: As their condition permits, socializing is a hugely significant aspect of the lives of dementia patients and their caregivers.

What have the researchers observed?

According to researchers, both patients of dementia and their caregivers start experiencing declining social connections after the disease reaches serious stages.

As the disease progresses, the social network of patients starts shaking. It is because difficulty in memorizing things makes conversations difficult for the patients, which results in families and friends becoming uncomfortable in their presence, as the researchers stated.

Additionally, their caregivers, such as spouses, adult children, and others, also start to cut off from social gatherings as their responsibilities to the patients are surmounted.

As per the researchers, none of the above scenarios is healthy for both patients and their caregivers.

Dr. Ashwin Kotwal, who is the lead author and an assistant professor of medicine in the University of California, San Francisco’s Division of Geriatrics said, “Unmet social needs negatively impact quality of life, and that can lead to health outcomes like depression and cardiovascular disease, as well as high health-care use and early death,” as US News reported.

“We know from previous research that older adults with higher levels of social isolation have more than double the odds of nursing home placement,” Kotwal added.

About the study

Visual Representation. Credit | Shutterstock

For the study purpose, researchers examined two dozen mainly male patients suffering from dementia, and four dozen were mainly female caregivers.

Among all the patients, the average age was 80, whereas the average age of caregivers was 67.

The findings of a new study were published in The Gerontologist on March 18.

Findings of the study

Data confirm that screening both patients and caregivers for loneliness and isolation should be done routinely so doctors can help these people find ways to stay socially involved, the researchers suggest.

Krista Harrison, who is a geriatrician with the UCSF Global Brain Health initiative, stated that “Participating in support groups, in which patients and their caregivers can meet separately, may be low-stress places to socialize and get advice,” as US News reported.

What should be done? – Experts

Visual Representation. Credit | Getty images

She said, “Clinicians should discuss options like community choirs that have been tailored for patients with dementia and their caregivers.”

Moreover, Harrison added, “Prior research shows that meaningful activities can be enjoyed as the disease progresses,” and “There may be simple ways of adapting activities, like switching attendance from a place of worship to participating in a service by Zoom with a small gathering at home.”

Researchers have identified that people who are close to their partner having dementia suffer more loneliness than they did before the disease’s onset.

Kotwal said, “People who are really invested in their marriage or partnership have more to lose when one partner develops dementia,” and, “But those with lower marital quality have already lost the emotional support from the marriage that can be protective against loneliness and depression.”