For people living with dementia, maintaining meaningful friendships can be a difficult task. A dementia diagnosis can turn someone’s world upside down and it’s at this time that friendship is valued the most, not only to offer comfort and support but to help to maintain an essence of normality. Sadly though, many friendships break down after someone has been diagnosed.
One of the key aspects of Alzheimer Scotland’s 5 Pillar Model of Post Diagnostic Support is ‘Supporting Community Connections.’ This involves working closely with people to maintain and build on their existing social networks, to enhance their quality of life and maximise the natural support they receive from those around them, helping to avoiding isolation and reducing future reliance on care services.
In a poll of more than 500 participants, our 2017 ‘Friendship and Dementia’ survey highlighted some disheartening statistics:
Two out of three people living with dementia have lost friendships following their diagnosis.
60% of people living with dementia felt reluctant to attend social situations after their diagnosis.
91% of participants felt that there was not enough public knowledge of dementia and what it’s like to live with the illness.
These findings show that more must be done to improve public understanding of attitudes towards dementia, so we are able to help friendships adapt following a diagnosis and throughout the illness. Alzheimer Scotland’s Friendship and Dementia leaflet provides hints and tips on how to provide emotional and practical support to people with dementia, at all stages of the illness. The leaflet provides tips such as:
• Find out more about dementia and how it’s likely to affect their everyday life. This will help you to support your friend and make you more prepared for changes in the months and years ahead
• Accept the person your friend is now; try not to draw comparisons with how they were before developing dementia
• Make sure to talk directly to your friend, especially in social situations.
We can all play our part in being a good friend. Why not find out more about becoming a Dementia Friend? It’s a free interactive and informative training course that will provide you with an understanding of how to interact with people living with dementia. Find out more at www.dementiafriendsscotland.org.