We are all social animals. Having a connection with others is a core human need. It fills us with thoughts of well-being and a sense of self. Healthy, meaningful relationships and the feeling of belonging to a group with which we identify ourselves is a complete support system in itself.
“We are hard-wired to connect to others. It’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it, there is suffering.” (Brene Brown)
Life changes when a family member receives a diagnosis of any new health condition, but as people, we don’t. The person within remains the same. The need to connect suddenly doesn’t disappear. In fact, it increases. Greatly.
People with a diagnosis of dementia are no different. Feeling connected is essential for all of us, with or without a diagnosis of any condition. Feeling loved helps maintain that connection and reduces the potential for creating a physical and emotional gulf between previously connected people.
Unfortunately, due to a lack of awareness, often with a diagnosis of dementia, friends can begin to disappear. This can lead people with dementia to begin to feel lonely and frightened very quickly.
It’s essential to see past the label to the person still there, living and breathing in front of us, with the same likes and dislikes, feelings, and emotions. There may be a need to help out with prompting and gentle reminders but nothing that the right choice of words and friendly tones can’t overcome.
Family members at home with dementia identify and respond to gestures of love and the sensation of touch precisely the same way we all do. Human contact speaks volumes. A hug, an affectionate squeezing of hand, and a gentle touch on the shoulders can help you both remain connected. At the end of the day, it’s all about present moment living. Is it not?
Family members still crave to belong and stay connected to you. They still see a lovely, smiling face coming towards them and feel the sensation of a warm, loving hug wrapped around them. The same way any one of us would.
Every human being picks up on how another makes them feel. Because someone has a diagnosis of dementia, it doesn’t make them different. The more positive impressions left on their heart after every interaction will build and build within the person, leaving them feeling loved and connected.
In caring at home for a family member with dementia, it is vital to build and continue to make that imprint. You will be repaid tenfold in reciprocation.
Does it really matter that much if the person can’t remember the old you when the opportunity exists to form a new meaningful connection? Does it really matter that much if the person can’t recall your name or calls you the wrong name?
Yes, our relationship may change. It might never go back to the way it was. However, we can develop a new feeling of trust, closeness, and security together by maintaining connection.