It’s no secret that communicating with parents who suffer from  dementia is difficult, especially in the latter stages of the disease.

So what can we do to communicate our love to a person who may not even remember who we are?

The answer may be to look at ways in which they expressed their love to us.

When you failed a test at school, or your friends “left without you” or you were not feeling well, what did your Mom or Dad do to make you feel better?  I remember that when I had a cold, my Mom would always rub Vick’s Vapo Rub on my chest.  I hated the smell and the stickiness but never-the-less, it showed me that she cared.

Once when my 2 best friends were playing the “Three’s a Crowd” game, my father, who was handy with woodwork, made me a skateboard.  He never said a word about flaunting it in front of my friends; he just asked me to “try it out”.  And before long, my two best friends came running over for a chance at a turn to ride on it.

When you were not at your best, what kinds of things did your parents do to express their love to you?

I posed the question on Facebook and Twitter and here are some of the responses that I received:

  • caring words
  • opening the windows
  • let me stay home from school
  • kisses on the forehead
  • brought me “magic toys” from the drugstore
  • asking “you alright?”
  • sang to me
  • let me eat in my bedroom which was otherwise forbidden
  • put Vick’s Vapo Rub on my chest with heated towel on top
  • brought me a stuffed animal
  • took us bowling
  • stroked forehead
  • light touches on shoulder, hand or knee
  • brought me soup (potato, chicken noodle), 7-Up, Ginger Ale, popsicles
  • just sat quietly close by
  • hand-written notes in lunch boxes
  • brought me ice cream when I had a sore throat

My theory is that if you examine the things that your aging parent did to show you love, you could use these same things to show them YOUR love.  The actions will be familiar and comfortable to them and should evoke the same loving feelings that they felt towards you when they intiated the actions themselves.

Give it a try and let me know if it works for you.


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