Love for those with Dementia

February is called a month of LOVE. I was asked in the past, “What do you do when your loved one acts like a child?”  My response was, “You treat them with respect as your elder”.

What are some ways to love the person with dementia?  All senses are altered, and it is difficult for the brain to process the changes.  Reaching out and touching, hugging, or holding hands can go a long way in calming an agitated loved one.

Playing old hymns or other soft music of their era will sometimes provide comfort and calm. 

It is never easy for the caregiver, but showing love in facial expressions and actions can go a long way in maintaining a peaceful environment.

If you are in the Clemson, SC area, I will be teaching a course titled “Dealing with Dementia” at

OLLI (Clemson’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute)

OLLI - CHEEZEM EDU CENTER (map)

100 Thomas Green Blvd.
Clemson, SC 29631

Phone: 864-633-5242

Wednesday, February 21 at 11 AM - 12:30 PM

Sign up at www.olliatclemson.org – Limit 20

Alzheimer's Disease/Dementia

Alzheimer’s…Dementia…Senility…How to deal with the consequences of a lost mind without losing yours!

Paraphrased from a reader who cared for his wife for almost 20 years: 

Sometimes when an Alzheimer’s patient is acting out or agitated, it may be that they are afraid. If you were ever lost as a child, you may remember how that little fear and panic began to set in and overcome you.  It is the same for an Alzheimer’s patient who is lost in their mind, because they may not know where they are or who they are.  Their agitation may be from their inability to communicate what they want or need.  Speak softly and calmly, holding their hand or giving them a hug if they will allow you to do so.

Make it a point to always stop by their chair, even if they are sleeping, to touch them, hold their hand and bend down quietly to speak in their ear of your love and support. Also, state your name in the same calm and loving voice.  Reinforce your name every time you interact with them.  It is not their fault, they cannot remember who you are, it is the disease.

Alzheimer's Disease and the Spouse

From a reader:  “The one thing I find different from what you wrote about is that this is a different relationship than between parent/child. This is a spouse and the emotions and feelings are much different. The Biblical principles are the same no matter if it is parent/child or spousal.  But it gets really hard at times watching my husband slowly fade away.  I don't always handle it well.  I have been used to him being the one to lean on, sharing thoughts and memories of good times.  Now, that is gone.”

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From a husband who cared for his wife with AD:  "No matter how well you prepare yourself, when that moment comes that your spouse does not recognize you, or thinks you are someone else, (who may be another family member or someone who is still in their memory bank), it is always difficult to handle emotionally.

I remember one gentleman in our support group who was very discouraged as he related the story how his wife no longer knew who he was and no longer wanted him in the house. She thought he was a stranger who had no business being there. He thought she was a totally different person and someone that he did not know.

We must remember that with an Alzheimer’s patient, it is not their fault or their choosing to have forgotten their spouse or loved one.  They are the same person whom we love, and they are the same person who loves us – but now they are not able to express that love because their AD has robbed them of that memory.  We need to show them the love and and care and respect as we always have in the past. An AD patient can understand what is being said around them so remember and be careful of your conversations."

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Thank you to both of these contributors regarding the experiences, hardships and rewards on the caregiving journey in the life of Dementia.  I will continue this topic next month as well.  I welcome your comments and discussions as well.

Ephesians 4:29, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."