As dementia care evolves and changes, it’s shifting more towards a holistic approach that is centered around community living.
A holistic approach means rather than just treating the illness, the patient’s overall wellbeing is treated with equal emphasis. Promoting a sense of community for dementia patients is a very important part of ensuring their wellbeing, preventing loneliness, and ultimately, of keeping them happier.
As well as this effect on happiness, a sense of community has a lot of other benefits for dementia sufferers.
Promotion of healthy “norms”
Human beings are social creatures, and we like to live as part of communities. Being part of a community means that you feel a connection to those people who are in the community with you, and you care about their wellbeing as well as your own. If you’re part of a close-knit community group it’s common to check in on each other, and help each other where possible.
We also start to adapt our behaviors so that they match those of the other people in the community, and that can be great for dementia patients.
Feeling as though they are part of a community can help to promote healthy behavior, or “norms.” For example, if it’s normal in your community to exercise daily, then it’s likely that you will find yourself exercising daily as well because you want to feel part of the group. The same goes for a multitude of positive behaviors. If the people in your group regularly attend medical check-ups then you will probably do the same, and if the people in your group don’t smoke then you will be less inclined to smoke yourself.
Another great part about belonging to a community group is that it means that you will get regular social interaction, which has numerous benefits.
Social interaction prevents cognitive decline
One of the benefits of regular social interaction is that studies have indicated that it prevents cognitive decline.
The study found that the more social interaction that people had, the less cognitive decline they experienced over the period of the study. It also showed that people with lower levels of cognitive function were likely to also experience a decline in the amount of social interaction they had.
This is where memory-focused community care like that provided at Bee Cave senior living is so important. As people’s cognitive function declines, they are less likely to seek out social interaction, and so being part of a community that encourages socialization is absolutely key.
Opportunities for learning
When you are part of a community, you are likely to learn more than if you aren’t. Speaking with new people means that you are learning new information even without trying! Not only this, but if someone you admire has a particular skill, you are more likely to want to try and emulate that skill yourself.
Learning is thought to be important for your brain’s neuroplasticity, that is, the ability your brain has to create new connections. This process is important for helping you to learn more quickly, and to improve the overall health of your brain.