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Friendships and the importance of social connectiveness play a critical role in aging well, regardless of gender, race, social class, or impairment. Yet, dementia takes its toll on social relationships, and many friends withdraw and ‘disappear’, because they can no longer bear to see the changes that are taking place in their diagnosed friend. The dementia care literature documents this abandonment; however, this study examines the opposite occurrence. In order to understand more clearly the role of long-term friendships and how such friendships remain and continue, despite the diagnosis of dementia, this qualitative study examines in depth eight people in the early stages of dementia who have been able to maintain strong friendships despite the diagnosis. Factors that seem to play important roles are: (1) the importance of the friendships, (2) factors affecting the quality of the relationships, (3) mutually beneficial relationships, (4) core values, (5) acceptance and disclosure, and (6) recognition of strengths and understanding of limitations.


The final definitive version of this paper has been published in Dementia: The International Journal of Social Research and Practice, 11(3), 2012.