July 21, 2011

Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Reaching out to those who have been diagnosed

When we hear that a loved one, friend or colleague has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, the reaction is often one of disbelief or denial. As with any life changing disease we often do not know how to respond to either our loved one or to those around them. Because we do not know how to respond many of us tend to stay away, stop calling or visiting.
When we respond in this way we do immeasurable harm at a time when you are needed the most. As the baby boomer population ages, it is important to realize that many of us will develop memory issues, so the more education and understanding the public has about these diseases the better we will all be.
Social engagement and staying involved with the community is paramount; allowing those who have been diagnosed to remain as independent as possible. Following are a few brief suggestions for interacting with someone who has been diagnosed.

  • Do not expect them to remember your name or others and do not test their abilities
  • Be very patient and allow time for them to respond
  • Try to socialize in an environment that is calm, without a lot of distraction
  • Be compassionate and caring
  • Keep in mind that this is a real disease and anything that is said or done is not purposeful
  • Accept each individual where they are in the disease process

Each of us has the ability to make an enormous impact on someone who is dealing with memory issues or their care partners. For more information, contact June Davis, Aviv Centers for Living, Director of Memory Services and Supports at 781-973-1580 or jdavis@avivliving.org