How to react when you hear that a friend has Alzheimer’s


Imagine the following situation; you have just heard from your geriatric neurologist that you have Alzheimer’s disease and after much sorrow,  you decide to share the diagnosis with a few good friends, even though you are in the early stages. You jot down a few notes of what you want to tell them. You know that they will be shocked as you are so good at covering up your short-term memory loss but you do  not want anyone else to tell them the bad news. You make the call and meet them for coffee, worrying how they will react.
One said; “I know how you must be feeling.”  He shouldn’t have said that because he had no idea of how I was feeling.

Another said; “There are supplements that you could take. By the way, do you walk every day? If not, you should. You should also get a second opinion, you know.” It would have been better if he had waited to see whether I would ask for his advice.

The third said; “It could be worse, you know. At least you will be with us for many years.” While that might be true, it did not make my husband feel good. On the contrary.

When he told someone at work, the reaction was; “Oh that’s terrible. Are you going to forget everything?”

The lady at the pharmacy who knew my husband well said; “Oh,  these pills are for an Alzheimer’s patient. My uncle suffered from Alzheimer’s and he wandered away whenever he had the opportunity.”

The following would have been far more appropriate:

“I’m so sorry to hear this.”

“Remember that we will remain friends. I will always be here for you.”

“I won’t keep asking you, but when you feel like talking, call and I will come.”

“Tell me how you are managing. How are you holding up?”

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