Maintaining Friendships Is Challenging for Caregivers and Those with Alzheimer’s

Maintaining Friendships Is Challenging for Caregivers and Those with Alzheimer’s
This week people around the world celebrated International Day of Friendship. In 2011, the United Nations General Assembly designated July 30 as a day to recognize the power of friendship to address disharmony in the world by "accumulating bonds of camaraderie and developing strong ties of trust.” The saying, “To have friends, you must be a friend,” may have come from a biblical proverb. This reciprocal nature of friendship presents a quandary for caregivers and Alzheimer’s patients alike. The latter may have lots of friends, but as their disease progresses, friendships begin to fall away. While the situation is sad and disappointing, it’s also understandable. Be a friend Over time, an Alzheimer’s patient loses their ability to demonstrate friendship in the way that they could before the disease took its toll. As the relationship becomes more one-sided, the definition of friendship needs to be revisited. A good friend will take up the slack, and carry both sides of the friendship. Keeping in touch with a friend who has Alzheimer's might even keep the disease at bay for a while longer. Keep friendships going Acceptance is the first step toward maintaining a relationship with a friend who has Alzheimer’s disease. Speak with their caregiver about what your friend can and cannot do. Ask what stage of the disease your friend is at, as their progression will determine the degree to which they are capable of connecting. Keep in mind that your friend will have good and bad days. And no matter what they do or say, try not to be offended. Facing the challenge Given the demands of Alzheimer’s disease, friendships often take a back seat. The challenges of caregiving invade every aspect of life, including making and keeping friends. How do you explain
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