People with dementia can feel happier when a relative comes to see them even if they do not recognise their visitor, the Alzheimer’s Society has said.
The charity made the point after the results of a survey it ran showed that more than 40% of people who took part felt there was “little point” in visiting if the person with dementia no longer remembered who they were.
In response, the Alzheimer’s Society said people with dementia do retain an “emotional memory” despite the disease and that seeing loved ones could “stimulate feelings of familiarity, happiness, comfort and security.”
And while people with the condition can forget negative and positive incidents, the feeling they produce can remain for some time.
Nearly 70 per cent of respondents said they would continue to visit relatives with dementia even if the patient did not appear to know them.
However a representative for the charity said: “Despite these good intentions, the lack of awareness of how important emotional memory is may mean that in their busy lives, people don’t always follow up on their intentions and over half of those living with dementia are left feeling isolated.”
Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “It’s so important for people with dementia to feel connected.
“Spending time with loved ones and taking part in meaningful activities can have a powerful and positive impact, even if they don’t remember the event itself. We’re urging people to get in touch with us and find out how we can help you stay connected.”
Social interaction has been shown to cut the risk of developing dementia in scientific studies.