Bulletin
Investor Alert

New York Markets Close in:

Retirement Weekly Print This Issue

Sept. 17, 2021, 2:10 p.m. EDT

My friend has dementia, what can I do?

new
Watchlist Relevance
LEARN MORE

Want to see how this story relates to your watchlist?

Just add items to create a watchlist now:

or Cancel Already have a watchlist? Log In

Teepa Snow

A growing concern for older adults is the fear of developing a form of dementia, including Alzheimer’s. People fear they will lose their independence, their memories, and possibly their sense of dignity and self.

With no cure in sight, and medications currently being prescribed that are only able to help with some of the symptoms, some of the time, and for some of the people, this is a valid concern. But what if it isn’t you that develops a form of dementia? What if it’s a friend of yours, a neighbor, or a member of your faith community? 

When a person develops dementia, it doesn’t change who they are. But there will be a few changes that they can’t control, so I’ll give you some tips to help with that. To get a better understanding of what is happening for them, the simplest way to describe it is to say that  different parts of their brain are failing . Chief among these changes are:

  • Language comprehension: being able to take in the words you hear and make sense of them

  • Speech production and vocabulary: having an idea in mind, choosing the right words, and expressing this idea clearly

  • Sequencing: being able to start a task, go through the various steps we have done for years, finish, and then move on to something else

  • See another person’s point of view

One of the reasons my approach is called the  Positive Approach to Care is that I don’t want to focus only on what’s lost. I want my focus to be on what skills and abilities remain and where I can support someone. Here are a few things that remain:

  • Rhythm – music, poetry, prayer, and counting are wonderful tools to connect with someone, even in the later stages of the condition

  • Social chit-chat and rhythm of speech – a person living with dementia can often keep the skills of knowing that a conversation is  I share, you share  and back and forth we go. In addition, your friend will likely know when you’ve asked a question – the trick is making sure they know  what you’ve asked

  • Strength – while dementia can often rob someone of their physical skills, they generally keep that strength. Let’s use that to our (and their) advantage

  • Memories – most of the memories a person has will remain, however the pathways to retrieving them are often destroyed. Connecting with a person and offering cues can often build a temporary bridge that helps your friend find those memories

Here are five tips for you to help your friend continue to live a life filled with meaning and joy. 

1. Stay friends, stay connected

You wouldn’t end a friendship because your running buddy broke her leg, right? You wouldn’t end a friendship because your golfing buddy hurt his back, right? Sure, you may have to make some changes from your normal routine, but you can still enjoy one another’s company. The same is true for a friend living with dementia. With a few possible changes in communication and subtle changes to activities, you can help them in many different ways. 

The old adage of  use it or lose it  is especially true when a person is living with dementia. We don’t want to do things for them, but we want to offer the support that allows them to do as much for themselves as possible. Being social, participating in activities, and being active not only helps them preserve what they have, it also helps them keep their sense of dignity and sense of self that many people fear losing. 

Page 1 Page 2
This Story has 0 Comments
Be the first to comment
More News In
Retirement

Story Conversation

Commenting FAQs »

Partner Center

Link to MarketWatch's Slice.