Mental Health Awareness Week

Loneliness and dementia

An elderly woman looking out of a window

Loneliness can be common for people living with dementia, as well as family members or friends who care for them.

While many people who have dementia can and do live well with the condition, the risk of social isolation is significant for multiple reasons. Meanwhile, a recent study by the IDEAL project found that two-thirds of family carers of people with dementia experience loneliness.

We are conscious that a lack of respite provision and funding, as well as issues facing people getting out and about independently, is leading to significant challenges and an increased sense of loneliness for those affected by dementia. We are aware that it’s often difficult overcoming these challenges, and even knowing where and how to get support can feel like a real struggle.

We have some exciting new face-to-face dementia-specific groups commencing in the coming weeks, as well as innovative new projects and collaborations happening with partner services. We hope these will offer some real choice and options for both clients and carers living locally and help ease this burden and sense of isolation. Do get in touch with your local Dementia Hub for more information on these upcoming groups and opportunities.

In the film below, Lewisham Dementia Support Hub and Greenwich MindCare manager Sinéad offers practical advice on tackling loneliness, both for those living with dementia and their caregivers, and explains how our dementia services can currently support you.

More tips for tackling loneliness

For people living with dementia

  • Keep active – there are many activities you can do which will not only provide stimulation and enjoyment but also offer opportunities to engage with others in similar situations. BLG Mind offers a wealth of activities in Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich – from gentle exercise and gardening to memory cafés and reminiscing. Discover what’s on in:
    Bromley
    Lewisham
    Greenwich
  • Get out and about – along with the physical and mental health benefits of spending time outdoors, getting out of the house offers increased opportunities for socialisation. Whether it’s a trip to the corner shop, a gentle stroll in the park or a spot of gardening, fresh air and exercise and seeing others can make you feel more positive and part of your local community.
  • Embrace technology – being able to see loved ones via video chat or interact with them on social media can help you feel much more connected to family and friends. You may already use a smartphone or a computer to do this. If you don’t, the earlier you learn how to, the quicker you’ll become adept. Many dementia support groups can help you learn how to use technology. You can also contact AbilityNet, who have a network of trusted volunteers who provide one-to-one IT and technology support remotely and through home visits.
  • Find support in your community – BLG Mind’s dementia services are open to everyone affected by dementia in Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich. To find out about services in other areas, try the Alzheimer’s Society’s Find support near you tool.

For carers
Young woman older man

  • Take a break – although this might sound easier said that done, taking a break from caring responsibilities can make a big difference to  feelings of loneliness and isolation.  There are lots of respite care options, ranging from a volunteer sitting with the person you look after for a few hours, to a short stay in a care home so you can go on holiday. Our Bromley MindCare service offers individually tailored respite at home – find out more. The NHS website has full details of local organisations across the country that offer carers’ breaks and respite care.
  • Be honest with family members – sometimes it isn’t easy to talk to others about how you’re feeling, but a dementia diagnosis affects everyone in the family, not just you, so don’t be afraid to share the load. You could ask them to take on certain activities, or just to sit with the person for a while so you can go out. People often want to help but don’t know how, and will appreciate you asking for something specific. And remember, if you don’t ask, the answer will always be ‘no’.

Links

Find out more about BLG Mind’s dementia support in:
Bromley
Lewisham
Greenwich