Self-isolating dementia patient

Dementia can make it difficult for those diagnosed to initiate or reach out. Learn how to best support a friend with dementia who is self-isolating by understanding the unique challenges they may be facing and how to reach out in a meaningful way.

Self-isolating dementia patient
Photo by Andre Ouellet / Unsplash



Thanks for your website and help over email. This is a huge help for the public.

I'd appreciate your thoughts on how I can reach out to a friend who has dementia who is self-isolating.

Here's some context.

He began self-isolating about a year ago. He's a proud, highly autonomous person, with a big heart. He's single, lives alone, and hasn't responded to my calls or emails for about a year. He mentioned about two years ago that he was diagnosed with dementia, but I didn't notice any signs in his behavior, until our last few conversations. He left his job as professor in this past year, so I'm pretty sure dementia is the issue.

I'm wondering if I can find a way to break the ice in email, or in voicemail, so allow him to feel comfortable speaking in his diminished state. Something along the lines of how important it is to me that we connect, since I suspect what he's going through is hard. And to not worry about any difficulty hew might have on the call. Maybe this is too direct?

Looking forward to your response!



Hi Mike, thanks for showing such concern for a good friend. What many do not realize is, a person diagnosed with dementia, often lacks the ability to initiate or reach out.

Many with newly diagnosed dementia are apathetic. He may also be dealing with depression.

As a professor, he was interactive and active with his students. That fact that he is no longer working may leave him feeling empty.

He may be feeling isolated and not able to reach out. There are many different types of dementia. I will tell you that the most important thing a person with dementia can do is to get out and about, for as long as possible.

Reach out to him. Call him. Go see him. Even unannounced.  He may have dementia, but, he needs someone to show kindness and support. He may have some cognitive issues. There are some people with dementia that declines slowly. Other types of dementia cause a faster decline.

Please feel free to give me an update on him. He is blessed to have such a caring friend.

-Diane Carbo, RN