Friendship and social interaction are an important aspect in every human being’s life, no matter the age. Dementia can be very socially isolating, so it is especially important to maintain a support system to prevent loneliness. When first diagnosed with dementia, an individual may be hesitant to share their diagnosis with friends due to fear of rejection or stigma surrounding the news. Helping to provide education regarding dementia and allowing the individual to share their diagnosis when they feel ready and on their terms is very important.
As dementia progresses, it may become difficult to continue a friendship in the same manner as before due to more significant deficits. However, a friendship can still be maintained by adaptation and participating in things together that they used to enjoy on a modified basis. Friendships can be especially important for individuals living with dementia who have limited family support. Visits, phone calls, or a card in the mail from a friend can bring happiness to someone living with dementia. It shows the individual living with dementia that they are still cared for and loved. Maintaining friendships can also provide a sense of dignity when it may feel to someone suffering from dementia that they are losing control over other aspects of their life.
When a close friend is suffering from dementia it is normal to struggle with sadness due to changes in the relationship. Support groups are a great resource and can help validate your feelings and provide much needed encouragement.
After a diagnosis of dementia, it may feel overwhelming to try and find happiness in everyday life. However, there are many ways to bring joy to a person living with memory loss and their caregiver or loved one