Dementia Friends: A Story of Love and Friendship

I think many of us who are over the age 50, or even in our late 40s for that matter, have wondered “am I starting to get dementia? Am I starting to have issues with memory loss?” We worry when we find ourselves asking where we placed our keys or how did we get to a particular location while driving, and my favorite, “now what was I just saying?”. I say this tongue in cheek, but this can seem pretty scary or bothersome at times as we tell ourselves to just forget about it and put it out of our minds because worrying won’t make things any better. Some of us decide that now is the time for us to start taking measures to find out more about our whole bodies, physically and mentally.

A friend and I, who have grown very close after knowing each other for nearly two decades, began to realize that we were beginning to show signs of aging after we both had our first grandchildren within one week of each other. Truthfully, we had already recognized signs before that, but for some reason didn’t decide to seriously make it a topic of discussion until recently. She knew that I’ve worked in the field of Aging Services for most of my career, and she began to ask me more questions about resources that were available to help her care for her aging parents, in particular, her parent who was living with diagnosed dementia. Silohouettes of two people from behind with each raising one arm and hands together to form a heart shape

I referred her to the Dementia Friends Information Session hosted by the Atlanta Regional Commission. Attending the virtual session was very helpful for us because it gave us practical tips for communicating with her parent experiencing dementia and understanding possible motivations behind the behaviors of both of her parents. One of the most interesting things that we learned was that a person experiencing dementia may not necessarily remember your name and other key things about you, but one very important thing they do remember is how you make them feel. We learned ways to better communicate with and support her parents during these times that can be both difficult at times yet also rewarding. We were also able to put some of our fears of dementia to rest and realize that some of those questions we asked about ourselves are a normal part of aging.

I whole-heartedly recommend this information session to anyone interested in learning more about dementia or how to become a reliable and friendly connection to individuals living with dementia in any of its forms. I believe that attending this session has provided us with tools to be better communicators with her parents. And it has allowed us to share an even deeper bond of friendship which assures her that she is not in her caregiver journey alone, and I am there to help her every step of the way.

Visit our resources for dementia page for more information about dementia, including Alzheimer’s Disease. Check our Events Calendar regularly for future Dementia Friends Information Sessions and other events to learn more about dementia and engage with people living with dementia and their care partners.

And if you know what you’re looking for, you can search for specific resources in your community using our Search for Services feature.

Alima Anderson

Alima Anderson is the Quality Unit Supervisor for the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Aging and Independence Services Department. Alima has served some of the region’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged populations including homeless and older adults for over 28 years. In her spare time, you may find her volunteering or patronizing the performing arts, education, science, and nature facilities.