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Should someone with Alzheimer's meet new people?

Answered by Karen Garner

April 30, 2015

After someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, should you limit their interactions with new people? For instance, if their daughter has a new man in their life, is it better to not have him meet the person with Alzheimer’s in order to keep their daily routine the same?

What a great question! It shows a lot of concern for the person with dementia. There is usually no black-and-white answer with those dealing with dementia, and this question is no different. Based on the patient’s reactions, I would continue to engage them daily with activities, including meeting new friends and caregivers. Some days may work better than others, and that will have to be a judgment call—but for the typical day, it could actually be beneficial. Make sure the new person coming into the relationship understands that they may not remember their name or even that they met. They may ask the same questions or seem uninterested and indifferent. It is important to make the patient feel as if they are being included in the family life they know deep down inside they have left behind and are missing. There may be a point where they become upset, even cry—but it should be temporary, and doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t bring visitors anymore. Keep in mind, their filter is gone—and don’t we all need a good cry once in a while? No one wants to feel abandoned—and meeting visitors, new and old, is a great way for them to remain connected and engaged. Thank you for asking and in the process helping others!

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