When friends develop Alzheimer’s

When we think of Alzheimer’s, most of think in terms of the impact on family. We think about family members being caregivers. But what about the friends of those with Alzheimer’s? Can simple human companionship still be relevant in the Alzheimer’s world?

I read this interesting and touching piece in the New York Times this week, about a group of women who have organized visits to a member of their circle of friends who has early-onset Alzheimer’s. These ladies gather on a regular basis for outings and chatting and noticed a difference in Sunny, who became unable to organize events for the group and had difficulty communicating. They talked to her family and when they found out the grim diagnosis, they did what good friends do: offered support.

So now the ladies arrange short, stress-free visits centered around themes their afflicted friend can still relate to. For now, these visits are happy and uplifting. The friends know that one day, these visits may not be possible any more, but they are focused on improving Sunny’s quality of life in the present. Her family is grateful for the break from caregiving and for the emotional boost it gives her.

Of course, not everyone has a circle of amazing friends like this, but they are telling their story in hopes of inspiring others. It’s not just family members that are impacted by an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Everyone in that person’s life feels the pain yet can make a difference.

Hopefully, we can count on good friends like Sunny has, if we are faced with a dementia diagnosis.

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