How do I react to a friend

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by ronpaul, Jun 13, 2007.

  1. ronpaul

    ronpaul Registered User

    Jun 13, 2007
    How do I react to a friend who now has Alzhimer's.

    We have been friends for over 40yrs and usually see each other for a dinner two to three times a year. This suddenly stopped and I have just found out why.

    Her husband is introvert and finds it difficult to communicate.
  2. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    SW Scotland
    Hi Ronpaul

    Welcome to TP.

    I'm sorry your friend has Alzheimer's, it's a horrible disease. But as I'm sure everyone here would agree, good friends are such a blessing.

    The first thing is, don't be embarrassed. Try not to let your friend know you are upset, don't be embarrassed if her behaviour is sometimes strange.

    Try to keep your friendship going, however difficult it is -- she will appreciate it, and so will her husband. If you can take responsibility for regular outings, that would give her husband a break, and would be a treat for your friend.

    In other words, just continue to be her friend. The relationship will change, and you will have to adapt with the changes, but you can be such a valuable asset in their lives.

    Well done for caring enough to ask.

    best wishes,
  3. Brucie

    Brucie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2004
    near London
    Hi Ronpaul


    I agree with all Hazel says.

    first thing is to visit her as if it were a normal visit in the past.

    Don't go expecting anything other than what you have known before. Don't prejudge - you don't know what stage she may be at. In the early stages it may be difficult for a visitor to know because she may perk up their behaviour to those who are not directly caring for her.

    If she behaves differently, or strangely [to your expectation], or repeats herself a lot, or do not appear to know you, or get agitated, or... anything really....... then just try to take it in your stride.

    Don't try to correct her - whatever she believes is the norm for her world, and you must enter that - she can no longer enter yours. Lie through your teeth if you feel the need.

    Always believe that she is inside the person you meet again. If she appears rude, it is not her, it will be the illness. Don't take it badly.

    Don't be afraid of body contact - a touch on her arm or shoulder, a hug - they are all fine as long as neither she nor her husband objects, and people with dementia can get too little of that kind of contact.

    Final point - take along a card with the web address of Talking Point on it and tell her husband about it. If he is introvert, perhaps TP may be of even more help to him than others.

    If he has no PC suggest the local library, if he can get out. If all that is too much for him, and you can do it, then perhaps offer to be an intermediary between him and TP - not all the time, of course, but if he has specific questions or observations.

    Remember that, in helping him, you are helping both of them.

    You are kind to ask these questions. I hope the above will not have daunted you.

    Friends are worth the effort, when their need is great!
  4. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Hello Ronpaul,

    I have little to add to Bruce`s sound advice, but I do want to show my appreciation for your thoughtfulness. You are a fine example of a true friend.

    What Bruce said about TP being even of more help to an introvert is very perceptive. I doubt anyone on TP will believe me, but I am quite shy and have often been called an introvert.

    But a Forum like TP enables people to move at their own pace and in their own time, and is therefore a fine medium for getting to know people.

    Long live your friendship.

    Love xx
  5. connie

    connie Registered User

    Mar 7, 2004
    Ronpaul, I have no suggestions to add. You have been given some very good advice. You must be a very caring friend to have asked.

    My Lionel's old schoolfriends still visit him from time to time, keeping in touch just as they all have for the past 50 years.

    They have always been wonderful, never treating him any differently, and always willing to talk about the past with him when he was able.

    I do hope you will be able to bring some joy into both their lives.
  6. Margaret W

    Margaret W Registered User

    Apr 28, 2007
    North Derbyshire


    What useful advice and how caring you are.

    Keep up the good work

  7. Taffy

    Taffy Registered User

    Apr 15, 2007
    Hello Ronpaul
  8. Taffy

    Taffy Registered User

    Apr 15, 2007
    Hello Ronpaul
    It's really nice to read threads like yours, my own experience with alzheimers seen my mums good friends desert in droves as well as her own family so very sad really. You have certainly came to the right place, abit like forewarned forearmed. You will get plenty of tips and this will put you in good stead. Friendship is a wonderful thing. Best Wishes.
  9. Nell

    Nell Registered User

    Aug 9, 2005
    Many people with AD find their "friends" magically disappear! This is hard on the sufferer and even harder on the patient's family, because there is no-one else to comfort, support, entertain the sufferer.

    I congratulate you on not being a "disappearing friend"!!

    My Mum has a good friend from years ago who rings her from Scotland about once a month (we are in Australia). She LOVES his calls, and we love him for remembering her.

    Once your friend's husband is confident about your visits (this may take time - many partners are very protective of their loved ones and feel no-one can understand them or care for them like they do), it would be lovely if you could encourage him to take a couple of hours to go out or just "do his own thing". Caring is very exhausting and a break is a true blessing.

    Please continue to use TP - you can get very good information, advice and support here - to say nothing of some good laughs which we all share!!
  10. Margaret W

    Margaret W Registered User

    Apr 28, 2007
    North Derbyshire
    Just thinking some more


    There is no reason why you and your friend can't still go for dinner. If you are a driver, you will have to pick her up and choose a place nearby.

    We recently took my mother for lunch on Mothers Day. Me, hubby, two daughters and their boyfriends. She hadn't a clue where she was, thought my dad was there too (died 3 years ago), but thought it was lovely and talked about it for weeks afterwards.

    She will probably enjoy going for lunch or dinner (probably lunch is better now) (but she might not agree at first). Your problem is going to be conversation. She isn't going to be the same lively interesting person you once knew (although if you can think of some episodes from 30 years ago, you never know!). Make a list of things to talk about beforehand, and if you know anything about her childhood, bring those up too. It is therapeutic to AD suffers to use their brains in whatever way, so dig up some old stories and old questions. They might not be topics you would previously have covered, but hey, what the hell? Say, "Remind me again what your dad's name was. What did he do for a living?", or "didn't your brother serve in the Air Force in WW2" (it doesn't really matter whether he did or not. If she remembers, she'll correct you. If she doesn't, she might look rather blank. That is a problem I have with my mother. If I ask her about something she isn't sure about, she totally blanks out. So be prepared to change the subject. Such as, "oh my brother served in the Air force in WW2, weren't they all brave?".

    Yep, it may be hard work, but you'll have done three things. You'll have given her husband a break for a couple of hours, you'll have given her some mental stimulation (and you will never know what benefit that has been to her), and you'll feel that you have tried to help. Which is all you can do.

    And if you can't keep the conversation going, don't worry. My mum spends long periods with no conversation and it doesn't bother her. And don't worry about asking the same question again - she probably won't remember you already asked it.

    BUT, I must add, that I am new to all this, and I am happy for my advice to be taken with a pinch of salt. Two years down the line I might be able to be more helpful, so at the moment these are just my thoughts.

    I wish you every success.

    How kind to be thinking about this so much that you have come onto this website to ask advice about your friend. She is a lucky lady.

    Good luck

  11. RussellC

    RussellC Registered User

    Jul 6, 2006

    Thanks for your post.

    The advice you have received is excellent. My Dad's friends at the bowls club rallied round. We also did all we could to take him out as much as possible.

    I am not sure that the progress of the disease was altered but through his friends and a Day Centre Dad got the maximum out of life.

  12. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    SW Scotland
    Hi Margaret

    Your suggestion of going out for lunch is a good one. Seven years in, John still enjoys going out for a pub lunch. But I have found large family gatherings are not a good idea. Cross-conversations are very difficult to follow (I'm finding the same, as my hearing deteriorates!):eek:

    I have found it much more successful when it is just John and I, and one son and partner. That way, he is more the centre of attention.

    I would also disagree with your method of challenging the memory. This is not recommended practice, as it can cause confusion and frustration. It is best to stick to subjects that the person is comfortable with. Yes, they do like to talk abouit the past, but it must be the past they remember.

    Sorry to disagree, but language loss is my husband's primary symptom, and I have done considerable research into ways of helping.

    Thanks for your post, though, and sorry to disagree.
  13. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    There`s a big difference between gentle encouragement, and stimulation or challenging, when people have language or communication problems.

    Anything that puts them under pressure is a `no go area`, as the pressure causes increased tension and even fear.

    The same could be said for groups of people.

    One to one is the best ratio for maximum understanding, but it can also be managed in a small group of three or four. With three or four people, the person with difficulties needs to be the centre of attention, as Skye/Hazel has shown.

    I have also found the speed of speech is important. I don`t know if anyone has tried to follow the speech of some of the inhabitants of the Big Brother house, but I find it impossible. Some of them must speak 100 words per minute.

    I try to imagine how a dementia sufferer feels, looking from one to another, different voices, different pitch, different accents, sometimes overlapping sentences, sometimes unfinished sentences, hard to follow body language, facial expressions and gestures, all distracting, all confusing................

    Inclusion is good, but it could so easily become exclusion.

    This of course is just a personal observation, based on experiences past and present.
  14. snowtree

    snowtree Registered User

    Jun 14, 2007
    Oh Grannie G i have just read your reply to that thread and it has made so much sense to me with regards my dad! When there are a few of us around i can see his eyes searching our faces, as we talk, trying to put together what we are saying and then the link between what the last person has said! Its all too fast for him to make into a picture - make sense of. It must be so very confusing.
  15. Tender Face

    Tender Face Account Closed

    Mar 14, 2006
    NW England
    That's quite a brilliant maxim for so many situations!!!!!!

    Ronpaul, confess I'd seen this thread earlier but didn't respond - as no doubt for many others - I've felt hurt that mum has been 'excluded' by so many ... even though they KNOW she has dementia yet cannot make 'allowances' for her - shall we say - 'erratic social skills'.......

    Sylvia's and Hazel's comments reminded me of my trying to keep mum as independent as possible just in regard to (grocery) shopping trips ...... - and that's me as a primary carer and her daughter - and I got it hopelessly wrong ...... obvious she couldn't handle the paying or packing .... but I thought I was doing my best allowing her some element of choice by taking her with me (been far easier to do it on my own!!!!) .... what I didn't recognise was that she couldn't make those choices ...... and the very concept of choice was, I realise in hindsight, bewildering and frightening ....

    Mum's 'buddy' (essentially a support worker) arrives at a pre-determined time each week - but with nothing but an open mind. (If mum is having an 'off day' they have cups of tea and a chat ..... if mum is OK to go out they may go to a garden centre ...... or a little drive out ....... ) To me, that open-mindedness is the key to friendship and companionship ...... whether long-standing or otherwise ....

    Lots of brilliant advice here already .... I can only add my appreciation and admiration for your concern - and wish there were more like you around!!!!!!

    Love Karen, (TF), x
  16. Lila13

    Lila13 Registered User

    Feb 24, 2006
    Hope you'll be able to go on visiting, even if she isn't well enough for meals out, and even if she doesn't remember your name ...

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