Over the last year, many people have struggled with feelings of isolation and loneliness as regular routines and relationships were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. For people living with dementia and care partners, the risk of social isolation is high even during normal times. This was the motivation behind the newest guide in the By Us For Us project – Isolation & Enhancing Social Connections.
Throughout 2020, a group of talented and passionate people with lived experience worked together with the support of the RIA’s Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program (MAREP) and Behavioural Supports Ontario (BSO) to produce Isolation & Enhancing Social Connections. The guide provides insight into changing relationships and abilities, and practical tips for coping with these changes.
What makes these guides unique? The By Us For Us guides are created by people living with dementia for people living with dementia. There are 15 guides in total, each focused on a different topic, and all have been recently refreshed with updated content and accessible design.
John Hammel, who was part of the working group for the guide, found the experience a good way to give back. “I have volunteered for most of my life and since my diagnosis, I felt that this would be a good way to help,” said Hammel.
“I felt it’s important to help with the social isolation guide as I was able to connect with others going down the dementia road and help others who have not yet started the journey. It was also a way to help with the stigma associated with dementia. I find this is important to get this message out.”
The RIA is proud to support the development of these valuable resources. “Isolation & Enhancing Social Connections is the most recent addition to this fabulous set of guides, co-designed with partners in care,” stated Frances Morton-Chang, Director, Dementia Projects. “The guides have been developed using an Authentic Partnership Approach – a foundational principle for this project – and provide important tips and strategies based on the collaborators’ own lived experience to help other people living with dementia and care partners enhance their well-being and manage daily life. We are very pleased to support the development of these insightful guides.”
The By Us For Us Guides are available for download or purchase.