Living with younger onset dementia can sometimes be isolating. It can lead to losing touch with your family, friends, and hobbies you previously enjoyed doing. That’s why it’s important to stay connected and make time for things you love.
Spending time with your community and maintaining an active body and mind can give you pleasure or relaxation. These feelings often reduce common dementia symptoms, such as agitation or apathy.
It can also help you feel happy, connected and supported. Even as your condition progresses, staying socially connected and doing things you love can help you get the most out of life.
What you can do
There are plenty of things you can do to stay social with younger onset dementia. It’s all about doing something you enjoy. With a bit of creativity and support from your loved ones, there’s no reason why you can’t keep doing things that spark joy in your life.
Many people enjoy creative hobbies, such as playing a musical instrument, knitting or painting. Others enjoy social contact, cooking, or going for a walk.
If you live alone, you could develop strategies and routines to keep yourself socially involved. This could include asking friends or family to join you for an activity or visit. You can always modify activities or reach out for support if attending engagements become difficult.
Watch the following video: ‘Making the most of life with dementia - Trish's story’ to hear her experience of living with dementia or read the video transcript.
Being social is part of a balanced lifestyle. If you have younger onset dementia, it’s especially important to take care of your health and lifestyle choices.
Overcoming challenges with communication
Language is crucial for maintaining relationships. But as dementia can affect different parts of the brain, you may need to develop new ways of communicating.
Most people living with younger onset dementia have good days and bad days. On bad days, you may find yourself:
- Losing your train of thought or not finding the right words
- Repeating words, stories or questions a number of times
- Getting words confused or saying them in the wrong order
- Having difficulty with spelling or writing
- Struggling to understand what other people are saying.
You may need to modify how you communicate. Some tips include:
- Slow down and take more time to speak
- Find a quiet place to talk where you will not become distracted
- Let people know when you are finding it difficult to speak or understand
- Describe the person, place or thing if you cannot recall its name.
Because dementia affects each person differently, try various combinations of these approaches until you find what works best for you.
How others can support you
Family and friends can help by developing new ways to communicate with you, too. Speak to them about whether you want to be prompted, reminded or helped if you are struggling to find a word or are repeating yourself. Offer them feedback about how their communication style is working for you.
Regarding your medical care, be sure to work with a doctor who understands your first language and cultural heritage.
Explore further Dementia Australia resources (PDFs):