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For Your Friends

Your loved one is probably adored by lots of people besides you. But dementia has altered all of those interactions, and most people have no idea what to do or how to help your family. If they asked you for guidance, what would you tell them?

One father sent an e-mail to friends and family members about his wife before a gathering. He included the following suggestions:

  • As her disease progresses, she will initiate less communication. She will appear distant and disinterested to greetings and questions.
  • However, she still seeks connection with her family and friends. You have to help make that happen! She is not hard of hearing, just unresponsive, so speak in a clear, normal voice. She will not answer most questions with more than a "yes" or "no."
  • She likes to walk, but should always be with someone unless she is in the house; even then, keep an eye on her, since she can be as elusive as a 2-year old.
  • When she eats, make sure that she has small portions. If you are next to her, offer to cut up some pieces so she can eat without a knife.
  • Sometimes she will take your hand, or lightly touch your arms or cheeks. Don't be alarmed. She fondly remembers her connection with you, but she can't tell you this in words, so this is her way of reaching out to you!