“Loneliness does not come from having no people around you, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to you.” Carl Jung
During dementia progression it becomes increasingly difficult to express oneself. It starts with words being lost and forgetting how to finish a sentence. The person feels stupid when they attempt to talk and begin to shut down and communicate less.
Often, they cannot control what’s being said and yet are still aware of saying it. Emotional outbursts bring avalanches of angry words while on the inside they may want to switch it off but it’s like being possessed and they can’t.
Even with people all around them, they become alone, isolated in their own skin when they can’t communicate. This is especially true in eldercare facilities where one on one contact is usually limited to essential physical care or occasional family visits.
Imagine you have become mute and cannot express yourself through words. The people around you ask questions trying to interact but you can’t understand their words, or find yours or they come out wrong. As the internal isolation increases you become even less able to understand what they are saying.
At this point the more the person with dementia is left by themselves, the faster the progression of dementia moves. They are alone even while surrounded by others and loneliness commonly is followed by depression whether you have dementia or not.
It is essential to learn how to maintain communication and interaction throughout all stages of dementia. Even in the later stages a caring touch and soothing tone of voice is a communication. Listen even when they don’t make sense and use your facial expressions and body language to convey positive feelings to them.
Continue talking to them as though they understand, even if they can no longer respond. no one really knows what they still aware of. Just assume they understand and keep them engaged.
Make sure they know they are never alone.