Losing Friends During a Lengthy Illness or When Memory Loss is a Diagnosis

This is a complaint that I hear all too often from caregivers. Just when you are going through a most difficult time, some friends seem to drift away. Plus, interacting with someone who has experienced memory loss requires a different approach — one that not everyone is used to. You may have to communicate differently, or learn to expect unusual, unpredictable, uncharacteristic behaviors at times.

It’s OK for someone to feel some discomfort with a friend who has Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, or with someone who has a terminal diagnosis. But trouble comes when that discomfort leads to ostracism, mistreatment and broken relationships.

What can you do? Be as honest and upfront about how you feel as a caregiver and tell people.

If they still can’t handle it, there is not much else you can do. For family, you can always refer them to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, the Alzheimer’s Association or other such groups, which can give them more specifics about the disease process.

Telling people how you feel may allow more family and friends to offer help. Be sure to accept their offers for help or invitations to activities together when they are made. It can help them understand the process and may bring them back into having a renewed relationship with you both.

Another very real possibility is that you may have to expand your social circle to include new friends who are going through similar life changes and who may be better able to understand your loved one’s behaviors and your feelings. I invite you to one of the helpful About Seniors Caregiver Support Groups held each week at various locations in our area.  Check our website for the list of groups we are organizing and facilitating!

One of the ways to keep your brain healthy is to remain socially connected.  That is a priority for all of us. Tell me if you’ve found a group which has helped you which mightbe of help to someone else…….take care……Regina