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Mum has lost contact with a lot of her friends since developing dementia. Partly as technology was hard enough for her already pre-dementia let alone now. I barely have time between working full time and caring for her to also engage her in social activity with her friends. We sometimes log on to her Facebook, comment on posts, post some pictures but that’s about it. She has not told any of her friends about her memory problem although I’m sure most suspect it. Should I be calling her friends and telling them and kindly asking them to perhaps give Mum a call once a week? It would mean the world to Mum if they made some contact. She may no longer be able to keep up with social gatherings etc but I know she’d love to hear from them! They were a large part of her life. Thinking to the future,..If it were my best friend and she had dementia, I’d still be calling her even if the conversations weren’t exactly the same. Even if she asked the same thing on occasions.


Do I tell her friends in the hope they’ll make some effort? Or do I respect mums wishes not to tell them and have her feeling lonely?

Yes, absolutely! Her real friends will follow up your suggestions.
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Reply to Frances73
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Perhaps you could tell just one or two of her closest friends the ones she would be most pleased to hear from / see. If they could phone her every couple of weeks it would be a start, they need not mention any thing about memory problems, if they are close enough she will be quick enough to tell them herself. Get them to blame Covid and having been remiss about keeping in touch with people so that she doesn't know you called them, and see how it goes from there. A couple of people in touch may be enough, or it may encourage her to be in contact with more, and to worry less about her memory. You will need to get these friends to be in cahoots with you over what they say to start with so that they seem to have just called to say hello. Start slowly and see how mum gets on, and pick the right people, it is asking for people to help, but if they are good friends I am sure they will want to, without giving away mum's condition. Good luck it is a bit tricky to manage the two opposing needs from mum but with the care you show I am sure you'll be able to work something out.
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Reply to TaylorUK
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Cappuccino42: Imho, you could connect with your mother's friends and state something akin to "Mom misses you/she would love to hear from you." Leave it at that because it's going to be obvious to these friends who hopefully connect with your mother that something is amiss.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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Agreeing with many of the previous comments/ideas; also, of mom is not yet accepting a decline, it's not 'giving in' to an illness so much as facing it with courage, which is natural to some folks but others have to grow into it, and some never do. I think it would be fine to let your mom's friends know she wants to hear from her old friends but is not able to reach out so easily herself; the ones that contact her will 'catch on' and maybe continue, or not, but then you know which of her old circle will be her pals. It's hard to see a friend in trouble, and then fear it will be You next, but some folks will rally because of knowing it can happen to anyone and will to one extent or another.
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Reply to Santalynn
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This is probably along the lines of other suggestions, but there is no need to use the word ‘dementia’. It is perfectly normal to have ‘memory problems’ as we get older (eg where did I put those spare keys?), and you can leave it up to the friend to work out how difficult things are. I’d call a friend and say something like ‘Mum is having memory problems, and she’s really embarrassed about it. She’d love to hear from you, but I can’t get her to phone. If you could manage sometime to give her a call about old times, it would be really kind if you could just skate over anything she seems to have forgotten’.

If the first one goes well, you can try for more callers. Worth a go?
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Reply to MargaretMcKen
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By all means YES, and some will and some won't as time progresses. My mother's phone conversations with friends and family were a Godsend, and many conversations were repeated ad nauseam - but these select few called nonetheless. Another suggestion if she can afford it, hire a companion to take her out shopping, help with laundry, or just spend an hour or two having tea and talking about the good ole days. Keeping her social contacts will help with her loneliness, keep her mind more active, and slow the dementia a bit also.
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Reply to NYCmama
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Yes, you should tell her friends. Be prepared though…they will probably dwindle away. That’s what I’ve found with my husbands friends.

His best friend, I was very disappointed at when I realized he hasn’t been in touch, but then I found out something…his best friends wife was recently diagnosed with dementia. So, yes, they may dwindle away, but that’s mostly because life needs to be handled, not because they weren’t true friends.

Do what little things you can, like FB and such to keep her engaged. You are already her line between herself and the outside world, and she may not be able to say it, but she is very grateful for you.
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Reply to Donttestme
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Could you invite a few of her friends over for lunch or a chat over tea and treats? You would need to be there to help the conversation. You could discretely mention that Mom loves to chat, but would be easier if they called her.
Or is it possible to "teach" Mom to call some friends. Could a user friendly cell phone be preprogrammed for her?
Best wishes!
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Reply to Chickie1
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I would definitely let all her friends know that mom is lonely and stop at that, not necessary to go on to details.
Let them know you would appreciate it if the friends could call her and even drop by for a visit..

You can let them know mom isn't great with Facebook that you help her with that.

But mom would love calls and visits.

See if one of her friends can come to visit once a week. If she has 4 friends, have them schedule one time weekly visits every month and mom will end up with a visit every week.

Arange for a monthly get to get her for a couple hrs. Movie Night with Pizza or a Craft Night, ect.
If you don't have time for that, hire a Sitter to come in for 4 hrs to play Hostess.

See if there is a free day care that mom can go to to make new friends.

Check with a local Church regarding Senior Activities and check with Local Senior places that may have a Bingo Night.
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Reply to bevthegreat
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She has dementia and people know and sense it and quite frankly, most want no part of it or simply don't know how to deal with it and off they go - and I don't blame them. I personally would give it one good shot. Call her friends and explain the dementia, the loneliness and what a call would mean. You might get one or two to call occasionally but don't count on it. It is what happens when people develop problems - been there, done that. So, while I can't walk, and live in assisted living surrounded by dementia people, i am very high functioning and very lonely so I made up my mind to take on the task of living my life to the fullest every day - BY MYSELF - and I do great at it. I don't know what else to tell you.
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Reply to Riley2166
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Santalynn Nov 26, 2021
And those that dwindle away are often frightened by the prospect that it could be Them next, so hard to consider/face but it does seem to work that way. Even 'wild' animals leave behind the 'disabled' individual even if past bonds were very deep; we have to help people reach deep to be kindly toward old friends.
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Having her friends call her is a wonderful idea. That idea has a better chance to succeed if you give them some tips on what works for your mom. My mom has better memories of the past and enjoys listening to someone talk about what they are doing. So her friends know it is not going to be a typical conversation, I let them know what I do. I call mom and ask her how she is doing. I look at facebook and tell her what her friends are doing. We FaceTime so it is nice to show her the pictures of her friends on my end of the phone from my tablet. I sometimes ask, I think she lives in NC or at the beach and mom has a chance to recall accurately this memory. That is nice for her to feel engaged. I tell her what I am up to which is usually boring daily stuff but I leave out the things she cannot do (cook, laundry, drive somewhere). I talk about a person we know that needs prayers or is on my heart to pray for and I pray with mom. If any of her friends wants to take her to lunch, I suggest they look at the menu and pick 2 things that mom will like so she can choose (coconut or garlic shrimp or ahi tuna or a vegetarian flatbread) and sweet tea. If they don’t; she will order what they order and then give it to them saying she isn’t hungry. Mom doesn’t comprehend what she reads and has a hard time reading. I also ask whoever picks her up to say, “let me comb the hair on the back of your head”. Mom cannot reach that far. This has led to very successful interactions that last more than a couple of minutes. Mom enjoys herself, friends know what to expect and interact and she isn’t uncomfortable with her lack of recall. Old memories are the best to bring up but the friend needs to bring up subjects. Mom loves listening and does a little talking but finding words is hard for her. :)
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Reply to Tandemfun4us
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Cappuccino42 Nov 26, 2021
Sounds very similar, even the hair combing. I’m always fixing the very back before we head out as she always brushes from just the sides. And yes the old memories are definitely stronger :)
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I think this is ok. All the family gets busy with their lives and our family is increasingly on social channels but my Mom cannot do this. We tried facebook, instagram but she does not get it. She can do skype with me. She can answer the phone, so asking the cousins and children to call her once in a while means the world to her. We all forget that everyone cannot see technology. Honestly, write a letter or send a card in the mail is also welcome, takes a few minutes, and does not cost a lot.
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Reply to jlastwood
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I know you want to protect her but, maybe she would be better served having friends help her face that she has some deficiencies.

Getting upset and hurt isn't the end of the world and if she knows it would be easier for her to face the facts with people that love her.

I have seen that those that acknowledge they are forgetting are way easier to deal with then the ones that pretend all is well.

Just my opinion. I do know that you don't have the right to tell something she has specifically said not to. It can be said without saying it.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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Cappuccino42 Nov 26, 2021
Yes, things are definitely harder when one does not admit to it. It’s also the reason I was more prepared when my brother (her son) passed away. She had never accepted he was sick whereas I’d read up on it all. He had a heart condition and COPD. Ended up getting pneumonia and that was too much for the heart and lungs. When it happened, Mum could not understand and this was pre-dementia. I know some people have a theory of when they admit to something, then you’re submitting to it and unfortunately that’s my Mum. Mum hasn’t per say told me not to say it to her friends but because she hasn’t admitted it to herself, her reaction is “why would we say that”.
But yes I don’t think I’d have to go into details before her friends picked up on it. Main reason I’d like to say it is to avoid one of them bluntly asking/commenting about it as it happened with one friend. Because it seems Mum would like them to also act like all is well.
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I would tell two or three close friends and mention that they may have to carry the conversation and prompt your mother. My mother has now forgotten how to use a phone and I’ll sometimes let her best friend know we are going to call and then I’ll dial the number and let my mother talk. Her friend is very patient and tries to encourage the conversation. You’re doing a great job and your mom is blessed to have such a caring daughter.
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Reply to Lov2teach
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If your mother has made it clear that she does not want people to be told that she has dementia, you must not tell them that she has dementia. That is medical information and she has a right to confidentiality.

But you don't have to spell the problem out to encourage her to be less withdrawn. Instead of logging on during the time when you're with her, why not suggest giving one or two of her friends a call and having a chat?

Keep in mind that the fear of them knowing about her memory problem may not be the only, or even the main, reason why she has begun to avoid them. It may be that she has found she can't keep up with conversations and has begun to feel anxious and awkward around them - her comfort zone has shrunk, if you like. What you want to avoid is its shrinking to the point where you're the only person in it!

How well does she understand what is happening? Have you been able to have open conversations with her about her memory issues?
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Reply to Countrymouse
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Cappuccino42 Nov 22, 2021
I’m already the only person she talks to,.... apart from the small interaction on Facebook,.. which I type on her behalf whilst she verbally tells me what she wants to say. This is partly the technology, her eyesight and the dementia.

She hasnt forbidden me per say not to tell her friends she has dementia but she hasn’t even yet come to fully accept it herself even though she’s prob mid stage. She knows it but will not accept it. She will admit it to me at times but then brush it under the carpet.

Theres no doubt she feels somewhat awkward but again I feel if she was upfront, it would be better.

What I do want to avoid is one of her friends challenging her about her memory.
This happened before,.. one of her friends teasingly said,... you have a bit of a failing memory don’t you and that really upset Mum. She got mad at her friend for laughing and hang up. I later sent her a message to apologise and said Mum is sensitive about the topic and to maybe not rub it in. They have not spoken since although that lady tries to send Mum a few messages here/there. Mum despite her dementia has always been good at holding grudges, hehe.

This is is why I feel it would be better to give them the heads up and tell them. Perhaps then they’d give her some time and I wouldn’t have to necessarily monitor the call to chime in at awkward times.

I will also say Mum herself used to look after a few individuals with dementia from this same cultural community. It’s like before when I called an aged care service and they recommended a place of support for mum and I said “yup.,. Mum used to run that service” in her working years. She was the coordinator there and provided at home care.
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Yes I think that's a great idea to alert them of your mom's health condition so that they know, and so that they make more of an effort to reach out to her. She may not want them to know, but maybe you can tell them that too. That way they'll be able to know, but won't bring it up to her.
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Reply to SummerRaya
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Cappuccino42 Nov 22, 2021
Yes I’m thinking then they’d perhaps be a bit more mindful and not expect as much. I wouldn’t have to tell them all the details just that she has some struggles and it’s a sensitive topic. I know she misses them
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I would ask people to call but, I would encourage mom to call them as well. ALL one-way streets eventually come to a dead end and friendship is a two way exchange. If she isn't putting any effort in to staying connected, her friends will drift off.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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Cappuccino42 Nov 22, 2021
Yes I’d be ok with that as well but I’d really like to give them a heads up to avoid them approaching the topic out of the blue which happened with one person.
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I understand where you are coming from - trying to respect her wishes but at the same time - you also know your mom well enough that if you think of some close or select friends (that you feel you could share it with) in hopes that this will bring her a better quality of life - (which having friendships and support will be) then I think you trust yourself to reach out to them.

Since my moms stroke she has less “effort” in her and I see when others send her cards or call her - it really does bring her happiness - now that we have those who write to her or call - it has made it easier on mom and or even me (as a reminder) to do something nice for them and has helped her stay connected to others. Someone whom sent her a book recommendation she now shares hers with them - or whomever wrote to her that first year she now send little cards to them. In my mind now - (after all we have been through) then add isolation of covid into it - I would welcome anyone to bring my mom extra love or extra friendship - so I say yes reach out to some you think would be a good friend to her🦋
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Reply to Momheal1
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Can she use social media? A lot of it isn't even Facebook-type complicated, and provides socialization. You could say that even this board does that. There have been seniors on this board interacting, too.

Another option is a "senior friends" program. These are volunteers who provide a few hours of face-to-face socialization. However, they are strict: No housekeeping, no pet care, no ADLs or anything else.
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Reply to PeggySue2020
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Cappuccino42 Nov 22, 2021
No she’s not great with technology. Pre-dementia she managed reading websites provided I first typed in the www address or it was a saved favourites 😂 she also used Facebook to share photos etc on her own, albeit a few mistaken photos uploaded! These days I do the typing for her as well, partly due to dementia, partly her eyesight. The last time we attempted to get her new glasses, she struggled with the “Is this better or that” questions. So she verbally tells me and I do the typing.
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