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Friendships for People Living with Dementia in Long-Term Care

... Unmet social needs can lead to social isolation and loneliness later in life, particularly for older adults with illnesses such as dementia who are prone to being misunderstood and stigmatized (de Medeiros & Sabat, 2013). However, maintaining strong ties to friends can help older adults retain a sense of meaning (Blieszner et al., 2019). ...
... Much of the exclusion individuals with dementia experience when it comes to leisure results from their discomfort in social settings and the distancing of friends (Di Lauro et al., 2017;Vikstrom et al., 2008). Propensity for loneliness and isolation after a diagnosis of dementia is also a cause for concern (de Medeiros & Sabat, 2013). Thus, we need to continue to find ways to address loneliness and isolation by supporting the maintenance of friendships. ...
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The ways in which friends behave can greatly influence the experience of living with dementia. For example, previous research has highlighted the negative implications that dwindling friendships have on one’s leisure engagement after a diagnosis of dementia. In this study, we share findings from a study that highlights the interplay between leisure, friendship, and dementia to demonstrate the complementary relationship that can exist. Specifically, we describe ways friendship can be a bridge to maintaining leisure engagement and how leisure can, in turn, support the maintenance of friendships for individuals with dementia. Data were gathered through individual, dyad, and group interviews conducted with individuals with dementia and their friends and family. Our findings have implications for friends of individuals with dementia who may be searching for ways to support the continuation of mutually enjoyable leisure experiences. Findings also have implications for the ways leisure providers can more fully attend to the relational needs of individuals with dementia in order to help support their continued friendships.
... Social connectivity implies a friendliness that may involve the actual formation of friendships but that also may provide an avenue for familiarity and trust that extends beyond a social interaction or being socially engaged with another. In dementia care, social connectivity is often assumed to exist between the person living with dementia and a staff or family member but not typically another resident living with dementia because of memory loss or other functional challenges expressed through language (de Medeiros and Sabat, 2013;Keyes et al, 2016). As we later argue, not only is social connectivity possible for people living with dementia in longterm care, but participatory arts interventions help in facilitating such important social connections. ...
This chapter draws together four concepts — resilience and flourishing, creativity and play — to explore the impact of poetry interventions in the lives of people with dementia living in a care facility. Participatory arts programmes can provide opportunities for people to be reminded of their humanness and re-membered as valuable human beings. Opportunities to be creative and engage with others contribute to resilience or the ability to transcend many dementia-associated losses. Through imaginative play, regardless of cognitive ability, people can express and/or enact important aspects of meaning and selfhood/personhood that might otherwise go unacknowledged in the care environment. While arts interventions may not be able to reverse cognitive decline, the case study points to ways that the poetry intervention creates a time–space in which people can ‘flourish’, express affinity with others, and foster social bonds, and how, in turn, these contribute to meaningful moments in people's lives.
Depression can be viewed as a psychiatric illness and, as a folk ideology, part of the conceptual world of everyday life for many people. In public culture, ideas about depression are often associated with culturally feminine traits (e.g., expressed sadness, uncontrollable crying, and other forms of emotionality) and in contrast to a sense of rationality publicly ascribed (however incorrectly) to men. Such gendered traits can consequently pose challenges to constructions of masculinity in older men who experience forms of stress related to loss and finitude. This article draws upon interviews from a unique sample—eight older men who reside in a militarysponsored retirement community—to explore how masculinity is performed and defended in light of age- and person-based threats such as depression. Findings point to the importance of the lifelong identity as a military serviceman as an important site through which to negotiate, process, or deny change with age.
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