Alzheimer’s is a scary disease, both for the person diagnosed and their loved ones.
Sometimes, people with Alzheimer’s find they’re living in isolation, and those who used to visit them often don’t come around as much – if at all.
What can you do if this has happened to you, your parent or spouse who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s? Is there a way to cope with the isolation?
Why Some People Abandon Friends and Family with Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease, which like other dementias, attacks the brain robbing the individual of memories and skills. The medications currently on the market for the disease only help curb symptoms marginally.
Our best researchers focused on the disease continually find new avenues to explore. It’s no wonder that friends and family members can be confused and at a loss for words.
Your loved ones may also feel uncomfortable. They don’t feel like they have the right words or know how to “make it better.” A serious illness could also remind them of their own mortality – yet another thing which can make talking to someone with Alzheimer’s uncomfortable for them.
How You and Your Loved One Can Cope with Isolation Associated with Dementia
The thing to remember about friends and family members who may disappear is they don’t do it to be hurtful. Most of it is based on emotional discomfort.
Does this mean you and your loved one with Alzheimer’s should live in lonely isolation? Definitely not. Here are a few steps you can take to reduce feelings of loneliness and ensure your loved one has an emotionally healthy, socially active lifestyle.
Attend Support Group Meetings
Whether you’re looking for a support group for caregivers or one for your loved one who’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, there are multiple associations that provide regular support meetings. The Alzheimer’s Association is one of them. It’s always nice to know you’re not the only one dealing with such a big change or a big responsibility.
Talk to Friends and Family About the Disease
It’s important to keep communication channels open. Give friends and family more information about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Let them know what to expect. And don’t forget to tell them how much you want and appreciate their love, support, and presence.
Go to a Senior Adult Day Center
A great way to keep your loved one with Alzheimer’s socially active and reduce their risk of depressing loneliness is by enrolling them in a senior day center program. At Skylark Senior Care, seniors get regular interaction with their peers, as well as the Skylark staff. Such interaction can boost spirits and make daily life more enjoyable.
Help Spread Awareness and Compassion About Alzheimer’s
One of the issues around this disease is it’s still not fully understood. Though it affects 5.8 million people and their families and is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., only a fraction of research money goes to Alzheimer’s research.
Why is this significant? First of all, it’s significant because a cure is needed. Don’t you find it frustrating there’s still no cure? Second, it means there’s still a lot of mystery surrounding the disease, which is one of the reasons people might unintentionally abandon their friends with Alzheimer’s.
Thankfully, there is something you can do. You can advocate on behalf of your loved one. You can explain what you know about the disease to friends and family. You can help raise research money. You can take steps to build compassion and awareness around the disease so more people are comfortable talking about it – and so society is one step closer to finding a cure.