Friends and Dementia

Sometimes friends and neighbors find it hard to accept that a person has dementia when he looks fine. Many people do not know how to act around a person who is forgetful or whose behavior changes. You may want to explain that this is an organic disease that causes gradual deterioration of the brain. The person cannot help his behavior and he is not crazy or psychotic. Dementia is a disease condition and not the inevitable result of old age. Even if the person can talk quite reasonably and a casual observer cannot see any sign of mental deterioration, he may still not be remembering names or really following conversations. It is important to explain to friends that forgetfulness is not bad manners but something the person cannot avoid. It can be painful to tell old friends what is happening; some families have solved this problem by composing a Christmas letter, lovingly and honestly sharing this illness with distant friends.

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