Taking care of a loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can be very isolating. The situation may make some family and friends feel uncomfortable, and talking about it can be difficult. So rather of confronting the new reality, people who were previously around choose to stay away. Instead of helping the situation by giving the caregiver and the Alzheimer’s patient space, these types of actions may actually cause more emotional damage to an already fragile new dynamic.
Studies have shown that people who suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia benefit from staying socially active. Likewise, caregivers who stay socially active with a network of loved ones and other caregivers can avoid feelings of depression, isolation, and caregiver burnout. For the caregiver and the patient, being around people who are going through similar life changes can be both comforting and beneficial.
The body's production of the hormone oxytocin, also known as the bonding hormone, increases when we have positive interactions with people we care about. When we feel a deep connection to others, we are less likely to fall into isolation and depression. If you are a caregiver of someone who has Alzheimer’s or dementia, or you have recently been diagnosed with the beginnings of a cognitive disease, look for support groups in your area and online. Join one and start socializing with people who understand what you are going through.