How does dementia affect friendships? It depends. Friends may stick around through thick and thin. Others you might never hear from again. And others will try for a while then gradually disappear.

footsteps on beach of someone walking away

Where did mom’s friends go?

My mom had a good group of friends. She had her very close group of high school classmates and she had her neighborhood ladies bridge group. She was pretty friendly with a couple of the neighboring ladies as well.

But of course, as happens with people as they age, the number of friends dwindles down as those friends pass away.

I would say, by the time Mom reached the middle stages of Alzheimer’s, all that were left were the card playing ladies.

I should be glad that they were still in touch with Mom but here’s the thing….

They continued to play bridge with Mom.

They would go out to lunch then back to someone’s house to play cards.

I know my Mom enjoyed playing bridge. She was of the era that played bridge. At one time she was a part of probably 3 different bridge groups including a couples group.

Here’s what I can’t understand, though.

Why would you play cards with someone who can’t remember what suit led, what’s trump and how many cards of a suit have already been played? Seems to me, it would be a very frustrating thing to do, not only for Mom, but certainly for the other women.

Don’t get me wrong here. I really appreciated that they would still make the effort to do something with Mom.

But in hindsight, I could kick myself for not suggesting to the women to do something different.

One at a Time

I wished that I had called each one of them up and asked/suggested that instead of playing cards with her, which I believe was too hard at that point in her life, they drop by the house to have coffee and chat.

The ball would be in their court – they could spend as much time as they wanted with Mom. Depending upon how it was going, they could either leave sooner or stay longer if the conversation was going well.

If they came one (or 2) at a time, that increased the number of interactions Mom had with others making her day more interesting.

However, with the ladies coming to the house, Mom wouldn’t have gotten out of the house as much and she needed those kinds of activities as well.

I am very thankful that her old neighborhood friends did make the effort to play cards with her during the time they did.

Gradually though, that stopped and the friends didn’t make any more contact with Mom.

footsteps on sand walking away from the frame focus

Your friend is still there

The person you called friend is still there. Sure, it’s harder to carry on a conversation with them.

You might get frustrated but remember, your friend is probably frustrated as well!

You might have to adapt your way of talking with them. They can’t adapt to meet your way.

Remember, you have to find a way to live in their world now.

If you’re looking for ways you can help a caregiver, check out this post.