Friendships are an integral part of the human experience. Yet, dementia often takes a toll on social relationships, and many friends withdraw. This research, however, focuses on friendships that remain, despite a diagnosis of dementia. It examines the quality of the friendships of people with dementia and long-term friendships. Data were collected through focus group interviews with people with early stage dementia and their care partners, and through interviews with designated friends. The findings show that people with dementia do have friends that remain and they have a wide variety of friendships, from those based on one shared activity to those of multifaceted deep relationships. The long-term friendships, which last across the various stages of dementia, appear to fall into two types: one, where the person with dementia has become more like a family member than a friend (suffusion); and the other where the diagnosis of dementia was the impetus for the relationship to become closer (progressive friendship).
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/phyllis_harris/13/