If you have a friend or family member who has recently been diagnosed with dementia, you may be unsure of the changes and challenges that may be coming. While dementia affects the person diagnosed, it also affects those closest to them in a number of ways. For example, over time, your loved one may not remember who you are, be able to participate in the same activities you both used to do together or be able to enjoy outings as you did once before. Fortunately, there are plenty of effective ways to maintain your relationship in spite of dementia. According to Winsome McLeod, Executive Director at YourLife™ of Stuart, a Memory Care community in Stuart, Florida, it’s common for those with dementia to withdraw after a diagnosis. It’s also common for their friends to do the same. “Those with dementia may be ashamed of all of the changes that they are facing, causing them to isolate themselves. Their friends may not know how to react, what to do or say. It’s important for them to communicate this in order to maintain the relationship. Over time, it becomes very simple.”
Maintaining a Relationship in Spite of Dementia
According to an article shared by Scientific American®, dementia affects about 3.8 million people in the United States alone. This affects the relationships of so many people. The article states that with dementia often comes loneliness, isolation and depression. This can be combated by maintaining relationships and increasing social interaction. How can you do this, though? Consider some of the following tips:
- Do as much research as you can about dementia. The more you know about the changes your friend will be facing, the more likely you’ll be prepared when they occur. Knowing how to handle agitation, aggression and lapses in memory before they arise can help you to communicate better and truly be there for them.
- Talk about dementia. Check in often to see how your friend is doing. By doing this, they are more likely to be honest and you are more likely to see changes as they occur.
- Reminisce together. A great way to maintain relationships is to reminisce together. This is especially beneficial if you have been friends for many years. Bring out old pictures, mementos and, if possible, videos of things you’ve done together to help jog memory and open up room for conversation and bonding.
- Don’t treat them differently. Just because your loved one has dementia doesn’t mean they need to be treated like a child. Be courteous and respectful, focus on who they are now and be sure to let them know you still love them and are there for them,
- Adapt activities you do together. Because abilities of those with dementia can change over time, adapting activities to meet their needs can help them to continue doing what they love longer. For example, if they loved to draw but can no longer focus in on fine lines, try painting. It’s a great way to express emotion. If they loved to sing but have trouble singing now, consider dancing instead or watch a video of them singing.
- Keep language simple. You may not be able to have deep conversations as much as you once did. Instead, keep questions to a “yes or no” level, simplify your words, explain yourself clearly and ensure they understand. If they are having trouble understanding you, try saying it in a different way.
For more information on how to improve communication with your friend with dementia, while maintaining your friendship, contact the team at YourLife™ of Stuart. We would be happy to be a resource for you and your friend during this often confusing time. Contact us today at 772-207-4191.
Designed for You. Defined by You.
YourLife™ of Stuart was created with one purpose – to provide the most exceptional Memory Care and uplifting lifestyle for our residents. As memory care specialists, we focus all our energy, attention and resources to creating a community that caters to each resident’s personal needs, respects their choices and honors individuality, while providing unequaled peace of mind and support for families. Because Memory Care is our sole focus, we have the unique ability to design and personally tailor plans around our residents. We see each resident as an individual, understanding that everyone has their own story, specific needs and retained abilities. With that information, we develop personally inspired care plans that value and support each person’s independence. Our team of attentive, caring YourLife™ Personal Care Specialists are on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide assistance with everyday activities, gentle reminders and redirection. Through our signature programming, YourStory, we create an individual experience centered around each resident. From cultural, educational and health and wellness programming, scheduled outings and other special events to personal care, assistance and multiple therapies, we create days with meaning. At YourLife™ of Stuart, our residents and families know that this is a community designed for you, with a lifestyle defined by you. Contact us to learn more!