How can I get my husbands old friends to visit him?

2 answers | Last updated: Oct 06, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My husband (AD) golfed, worked, volunteered and yet no one shows up to visit him. I have invited them here. He goes to respite care once a week now. Also, our Doberman has been uncommonly over protective of him if I try and help him physically. Any help for these problems? Thanks

Expert Answers

Helene Bergman, LMSW, is a certified geriatric care manager (C-ASWCM) and owner of Elder Care Alternatives, a professional geriatric care management business in New York City. She consults with nursing homes and daycare programs to develop specialized programs for Alzheimer's patients.

Maintaining relationships with friends, and even at times with ones family support system, can be a challenge for Alzheimer caregivers. If the disease has progressed beyond an early stage and the person's communication is impaired, others may withdraw because they feel helpless. They don't know what to say nor how to respond if the patient is repetitive, tangential or irrelevant. The sadness or pain they feel from seeing their loved friend or relative may be too great for them to tolerate so staying away becomes their defense. If the individual acts differently, they may feel awkward or embarrassed. Thus, the caregiver has to pave the way for these visits.

It is always recommended to maintain supportive relationships with good friends and close relatives. To do so, they must be educated and provided with support and this becomes the job of the primary caregiver. If you 'teach' others what to expect, and then give them strategies for interaction, their withdrawal may lessen. Sometimes, shortening a visit can be effective or integrating the visit with an activity like eating lunch out. The less you depend upon verbal interaction, the more comfortable everyone can be.

Some caregivers will draft a letter to trusted friends and family members suggesting when and how to visit. Rotating these visits can increase the patient's activity and socialization and become rewarding time for everyone.

Community Answers

Iamagram answered...

I went to a support group with a man in attendance and the facilitator said much the same and said that men are just not the "social" beings as women. He agreed wholeheartedly. They are more like hi, how are ya, good, good, see ya. When we are out, there is no shortage of just that kind of conversation, so I was just so disappointed to see that none of them wanted to drop by. Thanks so much.