Friday, 29 November 2013

Loneliness in Dementia

I have heard that it is quite common for people with dementia to feel lonely, and it’s only recently that I have realised, just how bad it gets
Many don't understand why it is in this day and age, that people feel so lonely but there are many reasons for it, when we look at it.


When we are diagnosed as having dementia, many like myself find that our friends disappear into the woodwork, and don't want to see us again, but this is down to the stigma effect caused by ignorance and lack of education about the illness.


I have also heard many people ask if the illness is contagious, and that makes me angry.


I also feel that when you are diagnosed with an illness like dementia, you are in some cases nervous or terrified of admitting to having it because if the horrible stigma, because it’s like cancer was in the 1960s, where many felt they were being stigmatised and treated like lepers, something I always remember.


The stigma has now gone from cancer but today we see it in Dementia, and in many cases it’s much worse than it ever was in cancer.


However many people start off without families or friends, and when the illness comes, they have no one to talk to at all.


So they get more and more lonely and isolated as the days go by, either because they have not had a formal diagnosis, or they have not been picked up by the services and charities.


So life for these people must be very difficult, because they will have no support with things like shopping or getting advice about problems they face on a daily basis.


There is another side to this, and this concerns people who have loved ones around them.


It’s a well-known fact now, that even though they have support, they still feel isolated and alone, or lonely at times, and this is caused by problems associated with dementia.


I have had many occasions when I could not think clearly for anything up to an hour or more, it was just a black hole, and I could not think of anything at all, the words would not come, or I simply could not think of anything to say which would make any sense. It was like being isolated from society and my family.


Its times like this that we all feel totally isolated and lonely, because we cannot get out of a horrible situation. This can also be caused by us misinterpreting something that was said to us by a loved one or friend. Our brain picks it up the wrong way and we end up stepping into the crevasse.


I often think it would be wonderful if there was a buddy system, where we could either ring up or go and see someone else who has the illness, where we could talk about it and find solutions.


I know that some small Dementia charities provide a service where they use buddies who can support and advise us, but these are few and far between.


I am sure that if a national buddy system were to be set up, many people who are lonely would feel a lot better, and may even join in at local groups or day services, where they would feel welcome and among friends.


This is also a service that local churches could set up, if they knew that people were lonely and needed friendship and support. Who knows but this could also encourage lonely people to go and join in at these local church services and gain more friends.
I look to the future when loneliness will be a thing in the past especially where dementia is concerned




 

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