Disengaging from Social Activities

Disengaging from social activities may be a warning sign of Alzheimer's disease

Healthy relationships with family and friends, and engaging in meaningful hobbies and social activities, are all vitally important throughout our lives. In fact, these activities are not only enjoyable, but the latest research shows that social engagement is very important to help us reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

There will always be times when we feel like being on our own, when we just want to blob out and recharge our batteries after a busy week, for example. Bouts of depression can cause us to unintentionally isolate ourselves from the outside world. During these periods we may find it hard to enjoy or even want to engage in our favourite hobbies.

However, when normally active and social people begin to withdraw and detach themselves from their social communities and things they’ve always loved doing, and depression has been ruled out, it may be time to visit a healthcare professional to make sure Alzheimer’s disease can be ruled out.

When our concentration is affected and confusion becomes part of our daily life it becomes difficult to do things we once managed easily. Instead it becomes easier to disengage completely. The following examples, if out of character, need to be discussed with your health professional as they may be an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s:

  • Removing yourself from hobbies and sports
  • Turning down invitations to social and work functions
  • Being uncertain about committing to new work projects when you have always been someone who puts your hand up and embraces anything new
  • Forgetting how to work on a hobby or the rules of a game that you’ve been involved with for many years.

Mum was a very social person who loved to chat and be around people. She loved dinner parties and our door was always open to anyone and everyone who wanted to pop over and visit, or come to stay. In fact, over the years we had numerous family visitors who would stay for months and even years at a time! Being a musician herself, Mum loved to go to concerts and other cultural events, but then we began to notice changes.

Instead of wanting to meet friends for lunch, she began taking endless train rides around Sydney. Mum never actually did anything when she got to her destination, but instead she just walked over to the return platform to make the trip back home again. This was so out of character for Mum, and at the time I was worried that she may be depressed, but that in itself was also out of character. Mum was always someone who embraced life and was for most part, very happy.

While I couldn’t understand it at the time, this type of repetitive behaviour is quite normal for people living with Alzheimer’s. They feel comfortable and secure in a familiar environment and doing something they have control of.

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