♪ silence is golden ♪ … ♪ the sound of silence ♪
Summary: EACH PERSON’S NEEDS ARE DIFFERENT.
Yes; we all need social interaction. However, As an introvert I have always had NEED to have some amount of my day that is alone-time away from others but not feeling cooped-up. As an introvert person with dementia symptoms and complicated by audio-scramble of every sound, the majority of my day now NEEDS to be without sound. Any interaction (especially any sound-interaction) needs to be sandwiched by a larger time period that I am alone in the silence.
Tru here. Have written on need to minimize background noise, but this is a little different. Have been seeing many care-partner comments lately about need of social activity for persons with dementia, and I agree that social interaction is a need — for ALL persons in all stages of life — and with dementia symptoms most of us back away from social activity due to many factors. But I think it is important to remember the PERSON in this issue; each person has differing needs for social interaction. Especially in energy source.
So what is “extraversion” or “introversion”, and why does it make a difference in my dementia symptoms or how they need to be handled? Extraverted persons mostly gather energy in social activity … but introverted persons mostly SPEND energy in social activity. Big huge difference in how much and type of social interraction is needed.
Enjoyed learning about Myers-Briggs typology many years ago and it was easy to spot my introversion characteristic. ((Excerpt below describing introversion characteristic is from http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/extraversion-or-introversion.htm but bold font added by me))
Extraversion and Introversion as terms used by C. G. Jung explain different attitudes people use to direct their energy. These words have a meaning in psychology that is different from the way they are used in everyday language. Everyone spends some time extraverting and some time introverting. Don’t confuse Introversion with shyness or reclusiveness. They are not related. ((If INTROVERTED like me, then …)) … I like getting my energy from dealing with the ideas, pictures, memories, and reactions that are inside my head, in my inner world. I often prefer doing things alone or with one or two people I feel comfortable with. I take time to reflect so that I have a clear idea of what I’ll be doing when I decide to act. Ideas are almost solid things for me. Sometimes I like the idea of something better than the real thing.
LOL: so that’s why I keep finding blueprints I created and fabric patterns I created … without the finished product. I truly do enjoy making the plans, reviewing the plans, and gathering supplies. Began creating architectural blueprints during high school and never quit. Never was a home created until I was almost 50 years old — but that home was built from all MY blueprints for plumbing, foundation, etc, and I received a phone call from County engineer with compliments for job well done (( smile )).
I can be a social butterfly when forced into large social context; I sat with a different “group” of students almost every day of the week during high school because I just truly didn’t fit-in entirely with any one of them and yet got along with almost all students — but it was high-cost to my energy level. I host Dementia Mentors’ video chats almost every day of the week because those relationships are crucial to my own well-being, but chit-chat definitely is high cost to my energy tank, so many times it is more draining than reviving (depending on subject and content on that particular day). On ANY day tho, it provides a feeling that what I am going thru — what I am experiencing, is “normal” — normal for a person with dementia symptoms.
Instead of gaining energy from active involvement in events and being energized with other people, interactions instead generally drain my energy. I consider Relationships to be what makes life worth living, so these interactions are crucial to my well-being … but they have a high energy cost so must be monitored. This has been a challenge at different times of my life but now seems to create extra problems.
Some folks consider Extraversion / Introversion as a bit of quackery but … In the article, “Are the Brains of Introverts and Extraverts actually Different”, Discover magazine put the distinction as
When Carl Jung coined the terms “extrovert” and “introvert” in the early twentieth century, he emphasized that introverts aren’t necessarily shy or insecure—nor are extroverts necessarily empathic or loving. The distinction between the two, Jung wrote, lies mainly in the fact that introverts get exhausted by social interaction, while extroverts get anxious when left alone. Introverts need solitude in order to recharge, while extroverts draw energy from socializing. …
… A 2012 study by Harvard psychologist Randy Buckner found that people who identify as introverts tend to have larger and thicker gray matter in certain areas of the prefrontal cortex, a highly complex brain region associated with abstract thought and decision-making. People who identify as strongly extroverted, on the other hand, tend to have thinner gray matter in those same prefrontal areas—which hints that introverts tend to devote more neural resources to abstract pondering, while extroverts tend to live in the moment. …
… (Using Ritalin and films, a 2013 study at Cornell University researched …) … crucial difference between the ways introverts and extroverts process feelings of excitement. Extroverts, the researchers believe, tend to associate feelings of reward with their immediate environment, whereas introverts tend to associate them with their inner thoughts—or perhaps interpret them as anxiety rather than excitement.
Above excerpts are from http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/2013/08/27/are-the-brains-of-introverts-and-extroverts-actually-different/#.V0uaJ5_2ZaQ
Psychology Today, at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/thrive/201205/are-extroverts-happier-introverts says (bold font added by me):
… The brains of introverts and extroverts are wired differently! The front part of introvert’s brains are most active and stimulated by solitary activities while the back part of extrovert’s brains are most active. This part of the brain is stimulated by sensory events coming in from the external world! In addition, a chemical called “dopamine” is released by our brains whenever we experience something positive. It’s an automatic reward center and makes us feel good! Extroverts need more dopamine to feel an effect, whereas introverts have a low dopamine threshold. They don’t require a lot of stimulation to feel rewarded. …
It is said that USA gives preference to those with extraversion tendencies, and that was even shown by a “reading test” while I was in younger elementary grades; my multiple choice preferences to spending time alone in thought instead of with groups of children were marked as “wrong” answers ! This triggered one of my first “journal” entries as a child. I had to do something with the anger generated so I wrote about how I didn’t seem to have the right to FEEL differently than the teacher thought I should feel. LOL) … but some results show that human population is instinctually (before pressure from culture or circumstance) generally somewhat close to 50-50 between extraversion and introversion tendencies. Those of us with introversion needs should be considered as part of the population by care-partners and care facilities. It is important that our needs are not over-run by the generalization of “need for social interaction”.
So when care-partners discuss need for social interaction these are some of my concerns:
- INTROVERSION: What were the social interaction needs of this person BEFORE they developed dementia symptoms? How much were those introversion / extraversion characteristics pressured by culture or circumstance (ie job) that are now no longer pressuring? Personally, I am an introvert and have always needed minimum 2 hours silence or at least 2 hours by myself every day in order to refill my ME tank (and as a working mother that was difficult to maneuver — needed to include extended bathroom breaks LOL). With dementia symptoms, this has become much stronger, so that now my best balance is only about 2 hours per day in interaction with others. For me, those two hours are filled with family interactions and Dementia Mentors’ chats. Both of those interactions are supremely important to my well-being, but in order to do them I NEED to have silence and few sound interactions with most of the rest of my day. Music or movie (which is double-dose with music and words) are wonderful but they cannot be in addition to Dementia Mentors’ chat — they must be instead of my Dementia Mentors’ chat or family interaction. Yes — for me, music is an interaction. If mealtimes are with others (and I encourage that) — then it needs to be considered as “interaction” time. In fact, if multiple conversations are going at the dinner table it becomes totally unfeasible for me. One asset is that our house is tremendously well-insulated — then has wrap-around enclosed porch further insulating, so that even tho we live short distance from highway, even siren is un-heard inside the downstairs. Upstairs is a different matter, but then also gives the wonderful sounds of fog-horn, bell-bouy, local seals and seagulls making noise.
- EXTRAVERSION: It could be that if a person was very social before they developed dementia symptoms, these social needs may become even stronger after they develop symptoms, as a need to re-fill their own ME tank, but each person is an individual and has different needs. (Again excerpt is from http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/extraversion-or-introversion.htm)) IF I were an extravert then this quote might be true (but it is NOT true for me). “I like getting my energy from active involvement in events and having a lot of different activities. I’m excited when I’m around people and I like to energize other people. I like moving into action and making things happen. I generally feel at home in the world. I often understand a problem better when I can talk out loud about it and hear what others have to say.” Obviously, these things are NOT true of me. It is important not to super-impose or over-generalize social needs to where those of us who are strong introverts must go “wandering” in order to find the individual quiet time in a few stolen moments which we actually need to have as majority of our day.
- ACTIVITY: My own silent time is mostly filled with activity — there are always things I want to be making, doing, or writing. (And I have boxes of supplies for selection of activities that are lower on priorities because I am postponing them until my cognitive symptoms or other symptoms like tremors have advanced to point I can no longer do the things I am currently doing.) I rarely remember being bored in my entire life. I don’t know whether it shows outwardly, because I mostly prefer subtle music, subtle colors, subtle flavors, slow pace, ((LOL; I wear purple because of dementia advocacy — my instinctive preference is the subtle rose color which fills my home)) … but for me relationships are the pinnacle of life. Relationships are what makes life worth living. So actually I am an intense person in almost all interactions that I allow in my life. Whatever I am doing, be it interaction with others in song, in words vocally, with words on paper, with graphics or pictures of some type, with animals, with the unseen forces, or with my husband, — it is a relationship interaction and thus requires my single-minded complete focus and attention. If I am interacting with you then I am looking into your eyes and separating my thoughts from any thing and any one else in life but YOU. I am not thinking about my future words, or even my own past or future. I am thinking only about you and our relationship. Maybe due to that intensity, there must be a part of each day that am non-active and non-interactive — alone with just my own thoughts. No DOing-ness but just BEing-ness. … and I think that need may be increasing.
Having others around is a distraction in my cognitive process. Even if they are not trying to talk with me, they are IMPORTANT to me and I am not able to focus exclusively on whatever my project is. The more other people are around (even quietly and trying not to interrupt my train of thought) then it is more likely I will need to actually go walking to a separate ALONE location for longer period of time to feel alone without feeling cooped-up.
Summary: EACH PERSON’S NEEDS ARE DIFFERENT.
Yes; we all need social interaction. However, As an introvert person with dementia symptoms and complicated by audio-scramble of every sound, the majority of my day now NEEDS to be without sound. Any interaction (especially any sound-interaction) needs to be sandwiched by a larger time period that I am alone in the silence. #dementia #social #introvert .
Added 2019Jan13: The more a person is introvert, the higher the energy cost of being around other people. Still very needed; ALL of us need others, but just higher energy cost. The more my symptoms progress, the higher the cost of being around other people. … i suspect true extraverts also feel that escalation, but in the opposite direction; the more their symptoms progress the higher the cost of being alone.
My online group recommendations are listed at Dementia Symptom Perspectives’ FaceBook page >> https://www.facebook.com/dementia.symptom.perspectives/posts/1269744196375187
Here is a great article. It does not even discuss dementia symptoms but merely neurological science of brain. Sharing on my personal page because it is a crucial concept in my PERSONAL world. http://www.lifehack.org/377243/science-says-silence-much-more-important-our-brains-than-thought?ref=fbp&n=1
No Such Thing as BACKGROUND Noise at >> https://truthfulkindness.com/2015/12/22/drt-background-noise-2015-12/
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Thank you Tru for all the research you have done regarding the varying needs for social interaction. Your research was really interesting. I (like you) am an introvert, and people often seem that they want everyone to be extroverts. This would make for a very out of balance world. Think of all the writers and poets we would not have if everyone was an extrovert!
So true. So true, my friend ((smile))
I’m so glad too wrote this.
I know people assume being with others is important. It is, but…
I also need time alone.
People would ask “what do you do with your time?”
“Aren’t you bored?” Never!
I also enjoy music and all sorts of art. Or to read or just do nothing!
You remind us not everyone needs to be surrounded by people.
It’s important to understand the type of person they were before dementia.
Thank you so much for continuing to inform us. I appreciate you!
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Thanks! I agree that everyone is so different and a simple list won’t help when social interaction is such a complex issue to begin with! I don’t know if my post triggered this post or if great minds think alike. I’ve been getting a few questions about this lately and thought i would write about it.
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