Staying connected when living with dementia is vital for our wellbeing.
Staying connected with the people and communities around you is one of the most commonly cited ways to improve your wellbeing.
However staying connected when you have a diagnosis of dementia can be challenging, and in today’s pandemic staying connected to friends, family and the local community can present more barriers than ever.
Here are our top tips for staying connected when living with dementia from the comfort of your own home…
- Connect with the people around you – whether it’s those you live with or those in your bubble if you live alone. We can all get stuck in a rut, why not try a new activity with those you live with or re-engage in something you have enjoyed in the past? Is it time to refresh your recipes and flick through the cookbooks for some new bakes? Are there bulbs to be planted or seeds to be sown? Is now the time to plan your growing for the year ahead? Is there an old coin collection crying out to be rediscovered or an old game that hasn’t been played for a while? A book that could be read and shared together? An old tea set that could be polished off for a special afternoon tea and a chat? For some new game and activity ideas visit Relish, this is a great organisation with lots of games and ideas for activities that aim to bring joy and connection to people with dementia and their friends, family or care-givers. Whatever you do, try to find the time to do something fun, not just functional, together!
- Connect with your local area – go for a walk in your community and take note of the world around you – taking notice is another of the Five Ways to Wellbeing. Wildlife Watch has some great tips on seasonal plants and wildlife to track down. If you can’t get out maybe spend some time watching nature from your window. The RSPB has their annual birdwatch in January – you can take part and contribute your findings from home – find out more here.
- Connect with friends, family and your community from afar – Pick up a pen and write a letter to an old friend, a grandchild or sibling. Or get crafty and make a homemade card to send! If you do some research you may even unearth local letter writing projects like these organised by local schools and Age UK.
- Connect online – getting online can open a whole new world of social opportunities including
- Connecting with friends and family on online platforms like Zoom, Skype and Google Meets,
- Connecting with online events run by theatres, galleries, museums and libraries like these reviewed by The Guardian
- Connecting with others in a similar situation to you, for example through the Alzheimer’s Society Talking Point online community
- Taking an online class or engaging in an online group like Singing for the Brain
- Consider using an online therapeutic process like we use when making a Teacup LifeStory Book. Specialist therapy sessions help you explore and record your life – who you are and what you have done, as well as your values, experiences, achievements, family, relationships, and likes and dislikes. Sessions take place from the comfort of your own home, using an online platform such as Zoom. We do encourage a family member, friend, or carer to be present as well.
- For another kind of online support, check out our friends at TanDEM care. They provide an innovative digital service that supports families as they navigate the dementia journey by working 1:1 with a specialist coach using video calls.
If you need help staying connected when living with dementia by getting online, organisations such as Age UK and Ability Net can help. In Wiltshire Age UK Wiltshire and Ability Net have teamed up to provide practical support for older people looking for help to get online. Many local councils and libraries can also provide more information on how to get the best from the internet.
- Connect with local support – There are many organisations that offer support at home even during these challenging times. Local Good Neighbours Schemes operate in many places and can offer you support to stay connected to your local community from home. Many Memory Cafes have gone online or are sending newsletters and making phone calls – to find your local memory café follow this link. Your local Age UK will also be able to direct you to local support services in your area.
- Connect with an animal – having a pet can bring a great sense of companionship and add purpose and structure to life – there are centres nationally where you can adopt a pet. While adopting a pet can be hugely beneficial it isn’t a decision to be taken lightly, it’s worth reading this advice from the Alzheimer’s Society first. If adopting a pet isn’t possible there are a great range of ‘robotic’ lifelike pets available to buy that can bring a similar sense of companionship.
- Connect on the phone – When looking at ways of staying connected when living with dementia, why wait for someone to call you? Picking up the phone and chatting to an old friend or relative can bring great joy and a sense of connection. There are also numerous telephone befriending schemes available nationwide. The Silverline is a well recognised example, they take calls from older people 24/7 on their freephone number 0800 70 80 90. Local Age UKs often offer their own telephone befriending services too, as do Independent Age and Reengage. All telephone befrienders are trained volunteers who know how to start a great conversation!
- Make it meaningful – One of the most important things to do when choosing how to stay connected is to make sure the activity is meaningful for you – either simply in the doing or in what you achieve through the process. Ensuring activities are meaningful improves the benefits of doing them, and helps us to engage and enjoy them on a regular basis. Teacup Dementia Therapy will be writing another blog all about meaningful activity at home in the future – so check back here or sign up to our newsletter to be the first to get more of our top tips.
We hope you enjoyed our top tips for staying connected when living with dementia. Get in touch and let us know your ideas!