If someone you care for has received a dementia or Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis, then you know how life-altering it can be. One area that may come as a surprise is how friendships change once a person is diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s. There is often a stereotype that such a diagnosis automatically transforms that person overnight. The reality is usually more nuanced, but unfortunately, that stereotype often leads to a loss of friends. That’s because those friends may feel awkward and not sure how to approach their newly diagnosed friend.
Yet just like anyone else, friendships continue to benefit those who have Alzheimer’s or dementia. Here are a few ways to maintain a friendship with someone who has dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
1. Find out more about dementia. To help get rid of any misconceptions you may have, visit reliable websites such as The Alzheimer’s Association and the National Council on Aging to educate yourself more about dementia and Alzheimer’s. One fact: Dementia is an umbrella term for cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease is one form of dementia.
2. Ask your friend how they want you to stay in touch. As your friend copes with their new diagnosis, they likely are experiencing a mix of emotions, including shock and sadness. Ask them how you can best support them right now. Do they want you to call them a few times a week? Send a quick, friendly daily text? Everyone may have different desires for keeping in touch with others while they process the diagnosis.
3. Don’t be afraid to share what you’re feeling. It’s OK to admit if you aren’t sure how to help your friend due to the diagnosis. This is a more honest way to approach the friendship rather than not offering any support. This also opens the door for your friend to provide a little guidance, if they can.
4. Introduce yourself again if needed. With each visit, state your name and offer a warm smile with eye contact. This may not be needed until the later stages of the disease, but the important thing is to not assume your friend will always remember your name.
5. Avoid asking, “Do you remember….?” For obvious reasons, this may cause shame or embarrassment for your friend with dementia or Alzheimer’s. It’s OK to talk about things that you all did in the past and let your friend share his or her recollections, if they have any.
6. Focus on what you all have had and still have together despite dementia. Do your best to not let the disease define the bond you have. Your friendship will likely change and there may be bad days, but there still can be a caring connection with fun moments.
Call Secure Aging to Find Out How We Can Help Seniors With Care Management
At Secure Aging in Bradenton, we transform the weight of the world into a sigh of relief for our senior clients and their concerned family members. The mission of Secure Aging is to protect and preserve our client’s independence and dignity through careful and thoughtful financial and care management. As our clients age, it is their desire to remain independent and age with dignity. Our services protect our clients from talented con artists looking to exploit and deplete the financial resources of our vulnerable seniors. Secure Aging helps families in Manatee County and Sarasota County and in and around the communities of Anna Maria, Bradenton, Bradenton Beach, Ellenton, Holmes Beach, Lakewood Ranch, Longboat Key, Myakka City, Palmetto, Parrish, and Sarasota. Call us at 941-761-9338, or visit us online at www.secureaging.com.