“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
It becomes increasingly difficult to express oneself as dementia progresses, starting with lost words and forgetting how to finish a sentence. The person feels stupid or embarrassed when attempting to talk. They communicate less and begin to shut down.
There are times they can’t control what they say 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 like being possessed and they can’t.
Even when surrounded by people who love them, when they can’t communicate, they are alone and isolated. This is especially true in eldercare facilities where one on one contact is usually limited to essential physical care or the occasional family visits.
Imagine you have lost the ability to verbally express yourself. People ask you questions but you can’t understand their words, or find yours. If you do speak what you say comes out wrong. Dementia increases and you find it easier to simply go inside and not try to respond. At this point progression of dementia increases rapidly.
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 a nonverbal person is still aware of. Just assume they understand and keep them engaged.
Make sure they know they are never alone.