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According to the Alzheimer’s Association®, in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, friends and family will begin to notice cognitive difficulties in the person with the disease, and changes in relationships may begin to occur.
“One of the unfortunate challenges for individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease is that it can affect their long-term friendships,” says Sam Streater, Program Director of Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr, located in Bryn Mawr, PA.
“Friends may sometimes be reluctant to visit and interact with the person with Alzheimer’s disease because they don’t know what to expect or how to act. Friends will often ask: Will he or she even know me? What should I say? and How will he or she react?
“However, while friends might experience some anxiety about maintaining the relationship, Alzheimer’s care experts emphasize that maintaining friendships and continuing with social interaction are vital to the emotional health and well-being of the person with Alzheimer’s. Therefore, family members should make every effort to keep their loved one connected with as many friends and family members as possible after the diagnosis.”
Tips for Staying Connected with Friends
Fortunately, the Alzheimer’s Association and other memory care authorities offer helpful advice for maintaining friendships. As noted in the Alzheimer’s Association article, “Helping Friends and Family,” if you have been recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, friends, co-workers and neighbors may not understand what is happening to you. Sometimes they may not know what to do or say. They may keep their distance or resist keeping in touch. Or, they may be waiting for you to reach out to them.
Here are some steps you can take to help your friends understand and relate to your new circumstances:
You might also find that you make new friends as you engage with others who share your diagnosis. You may meet others through support groups, education programs, online message boards, volunteering and social programs.
It can hurt to realize that some friends you thought would be there for you now seem “standoffish.” They may have discomfort about your diagnosis, as it stirs up fears about their own futures. People who can't be a part of your support circle now may join later once they have had time to adjust to your diagnosis.
Other Ideas for Maintaining Positive Relationships with Friends and Family
There are useful articles such as “Making Visits to Loved Ones with Memory Loss Meaningful” that can be shared with friends to educate them on how to relate effectively with a person with Alzheimer’s disease. This information can reduce their anxiety and enable them to feel more confident and comfortable about visiting and maintaining the friendship.
In addition, there are other useful tips that can help to maintain and reinforce friendships after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. For example:
Sam adds, “By taking these expert tips to heart, you can make it easier and more comfortable for your friends to continue to engage with you and to maintain your friendships for as long as possible.”
We Would Love to Hear from You!
If you have comments or questions about our blog, on Alzheimer’s disease and maintaining friendships, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences in our comments section.
We also invite you to read our timely articles on current caregiver and memory care topics posted on our website.
Engaging Days. Meaningful Moments.
Loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory impairments require specialized care and support. They also deserve a lifestyle rich in dignity and fulfillment. Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr provides residents with Engaging Days and Meaningful Moments that emphasize individual abilities, encourage socialization and promote the highest level of independence possible. We offer a complete continuum of leading-edge programs, services and amenities that address the total physical, emotional and social needs of residents in a caring setting that offers individual suites with large private baths and the comforts of home. Our community touches hearts and changes lives.
Helping Families Be “Family” Again
Memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or another form of memory impairment doesn’t only affect the person who has it – it affects the entire family.
If you have a loved one with early- to mid-stage memory loss, you know how challenging it can be to provide the care that’s needed while trying to maintain balance in your life. As care needs increase, you may not be able to meet them physically or emotionally. It’s often difficult to be available to care for your loved one’s health and well-being around the clock.
If and when the time comes to seek additional help, place your trust in Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr. We lift the stresses and worries of being a caregiver from your shoulders, enabling you and your family to enjoy time with your loved one again.
For more information, please call Sharon at (484) 380-5404 or contact us online.
Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician