Loneliness doesn’t discriminate – Ten top tips for starting a conversation

A report by the Alzheimer’s Society found a third of people living with dementia said they lost friends following a diagnosis, and almost one in ten only leave the house once a month. Independent Age found more than 1 in 3 people aged 75 and over say that feelings of loneliness are out of their control.

Dementia friendly communication is the basis for relationships that create the sense of belonging we all need as part of a community. These tips offer ideas of how to start a conversation and nurture a relationship whether or not someone is living with dementia.

1. Smile
Starting a conversation with a smile is a great way to show someone with dementia that you have time for them and you’re not rushing off.

2. Listen
Spend time listening to someone’s stories, and ask questions. Often a “Tell me…” question offers more of an invitation that a “What” or a “When”.

3. Chat in a queue
Whether you are in a queue in the post office or at the station, waiting for something can provide an opportunity to chat to people around you.

4. Check in on someone
Pop in to see a neighbour to see how they are and see if there’s anything you can help with, like taking out the bin or changing a light bulb.

5. Ask someone’s opinion
Not sure about a decision you need to make? Why not ask for someone’s view. They are likely to add something you hadn’t thought of.

6. Do something together
Whether this doing some gardening together, making a cake, or going for a stroll in your local neighbourhood, conversation often flows more naturally when you are doing something at the same time.

7. Read something together
Whether it’s the local newspaper, or the church notice sheet, take time to read something aloud together.

8. Offer help
Ask someone if you can pick up anything for them at the shops, or take a trip to the shops together. Why not offer a lift to church, or help to take someone to a health appointment.

9. Notice your surroundings
What can you see around you? Are the trees in blossom? What’s the weather doing today? What can you spot in the changing of the seasons?

10. Spend time in companionable silence
Sometimes it’s good to spend time together without chatting. Just being together, whether we are listening to the radio, or just watching the world go by, it’s good to spend time together.

Jo Cox Loneliness – established to tackle community isolation – are championing a campaign which encourages us all to ‘Start a Conversation.’ In partnership with four other Christian charities, Livability are supporting the campaign by raising awareness of what we can all do to increase connection and tackle loneliness. Follow the conversation on Twitter using #FaithTogether and #HappyToChat.

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