Love and Dementia

On this Valentine’s Day weekend, my thoughts go out to those whose spouse or partner has dementia. The love you have for your loved one is extra special, as you love with double measure – you love them and you love for them, when they can’t love any longer.

When I visited my parents in their aged home, there was a lovely gentleman there each time, faithfully visiting his beloved wife. She was young – probably in her 50’s – and was in the advanced stages of alzheimers. I’ll never forget his answer when I asked if she knew who he was. He lovingly replied, “no, but I recognise her and she is my beautiful wife whom I love so much”. As the quote above suggests, he would sing her life song to her every day.

Whatever your relationship is with your loved one who lives with dementia, remember that Love is the greatest and will carry you through this journey.

Here are a few of the multiple ways you can express love in this process:

  • Through music and literally singing the songs that have been in their heart.
  • Through sharing precious memories with your loved one through photos and story-telling.
  • Through touch. explains why touch is important. “Several research studies have identified physical benefits to touch, including lowering blood pressure, decreasing pain, improving mood, and decreasing stress-related cortisol and heart rates.” Touch also has a calming influence and brings a close connection when words fail. My family were not a ‘touchy’ family, but when my parents developed dementia, I learnt about this important aspect and, as I overcame the unfamiliarity it brought, I could see it added a special dimension to our times together.
  • Through finding ways to make them laugh and laughing together.
  • If they are still mobile, through dancing together. Dancing transcends words and memory.
  • A special outing to a beautiful place in nature, if they are still able.

You may have others – it would be lovely if you could share them in the comments to help other readers.

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