Unfortunately, many people with dementia feel more isolated following their diagnosis. They describe friends falling away and they stop being invited to events. Some people with dementia avoid social situations as they are worried about how others will treat them, or about being embarrassed.
This has been compounded by social restrictions and service closures over the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people are simply out of the habit of socialising or may still feel fearful of the risk of COVID-19 infection.
However, social inclusion and connection is vital for people living with dementia as being socially active can boost your brain health and improve your emotional wellbeing.
Socially inclusive initiatives
As part of Social Inclusion Week, we are showcasing some important national and international programs that support social engagement of older people and people living with dementia.
Dementia Alliance International Peer-to Peer Support Groups
DAI offer online peer-to-peer support groups, which were the first in the world for people diagnosed with dementia and have been running for almost nine years.
A DAI peer-to-peer support group consists of a small group of people with a diagnosis of dementia, who meet regularly to discuss their experiences, problems, and strategies for coping with the condition, as well as strategies to live more positively with dementia. DAI peer-to-peer support groups are held in multiple time zones, and co-hosts and member also provide one-to-one buddying and mentoring.
Like membership of DAI, the weekly and monthly support groups are free to attend for people diagnosed with dementia. There are currently three peer-to-peer support groups in Australia.
Dementia Friendly Communities
The Dementia-Friendly Communities program, supported by Dementia Australia, aims to work with local community members and businesses to develop inclusive communities that enable people to live well with dementia. The program also aims to reduce the stigma, isolation and discrimination experienced by many people living with dementia.
Dementia-Friendly Communities involve people living with dementia and their supporters/carers.
Explore your community. Find your local Dementia Alliance and see which organisations and businesses are making your community more inclusive.
If your community is not currently active in this movement, consider how you could get involved to help create a Dementia Alliance in your area. Contact Dementia Australia on 1800 100 500.
Australian Government Community Visitors Scheme
The Community Visitors Scheme (CVS) supports volunteer visits to provide friendship and companionship to older people. Visits are available to anyone who:
- receives government-subsidised residential aged care or Home Care Packages, including care recipients approved or on the National Priority System for residential or home care packages
- is socially isolated.
To request a volunteer visitor, or to enquire about becoming a volunteer visitor, make an enquiry online or contact the relevant organisation in your state or territory.
FriendLine is for anyone who needs to reconnect or just wants a chat. All conversations with FriendLine are anonymous and their friendly volunteers are ready for a yarn and to share a story or two.
FriendLine operates Monday to Friday 6pm–8pm AEST. Contact FriendLine on 1800 424 287
Be Connected – digital inclusion
Be Connected is an Australia wide initiative empowering all Australians to thrive in a digital world. They offer online learning resources and a network of community partners – the Be Connected Network – who can help you develop your digital skills and confidence. The Be Connected Partner map has details of community organisations in network. You can use the map to find organisations near you.
Contact 1300 795 897 (9am-5am AEST).
Find out how others keep socially active
Read these stories from people living with dementia and their carers: