Social relationships can be complicated and living with Lewy body dementia (LBD) may further increase the complexity. The way this disease affects social connections is different for everyone. The progression is often unpredictable, not linear, meaning it may impact your relationships more on some days than others. As a result, you may need to reframe and constantly renegotiate the emotional and social connections you have when navigating changes associated with LBD.
The Importance of Connecting with People Who Have LBD
Loneliness and feelings of isolation often accompany dementia, and research suggests social interaction may reduce this feeling and may benefit the person living with this condition. Friendships matter to people with Lewy body dementia for the same reason they matter to everyone else—they provide enjoyment, support, and social identity.
But what about the friends of people living with Lewy body dementia? How do they benefit from maintaining a relationship after the onset of dementia? Research suggests individuals can find continued value, meaning, and enjoyment in socializing with friends who have dementia. Many describe their relationships as capable of changing rather than simply enduring. Friendship is an opportunity for personal and interpersonal growth, with gifts and benefits accompanying the potential for difficult changes.
Tips to Maintain Healthy Emotional and Social Connections
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to maintaining social connections following a diagnosis of Lewy body dementia. However, these tips may be useful both for those diagnosed and those in their support network.
- Talk it out: Discuss changes that are being experienced that may affect relationships and social situations. Seek support and guidance from others or even professionals to work through emotional needs and develop strategies to remain connected. Click here to learn how to connect to our Lewy Line for support and possible resources in your area.
- Accept, adapt, adjust: As you consider what the future may hold, be flexible in how relationships are supported and approached. There can be ways to modify engagement and continue participation in enjoyable activities and interactions as abilities change.
- Learn more about Lewy body dementia: Education can be key in understanding potential changes in Lewy body dementia which can help all involved learn how relationships, friendships and the need for support may shift over time. Understanding these changes can help everyone involved remain resilient and supportive. Download or order Facing LBD Together to learn more about Lewy body dementia.
- Learn from others: Find support from others who have been on this journey that may have real-life tips on best supporting continued connections. Click here to learn about our online groups or to find a support group in your area.
The Lewy Body Dementia Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of LBD. To learn more about this condition, we invite family members, friends, and care partners of people living with LBD to download or order a print copy of Lewy Body Dementia: Information for Patients, Families, and Professionals. This 40-page booklet sheds light on LBD and provides helpful resources for coping. For more tips, please contact us through our website, sign up for our email newsletter, or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.