Critter Corner: How to Convey Love to Someone with Alzheimer’s

Dear Commander Bun Bun,

My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s five years ago. A moment I have been dreading finally arrived. When we went to visit her, she forgot who we were. It hurt a lot to see this happening, and I know it’s just the beginning. What are some ways we can communicate love to my mother, even if she doesn’t recognize us?


Karenna Bowtmom

Dear Karenna,

Dr. Edward Shaw was a practicing radiation oncologist and a world-renowned brain tumor expert. When his wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and lost her battle, his medical interest shifted from cancer to dementia diagnosis and treatment. He wrote the book, “Keeping Love Alive as Memories Fade: The 5 Love Languages and the Alzheimer’s Journey,” to help people communicate with their loved ones with Alzheimer’s.

The 5 Love Languages provide tools that make it possible to sustain an emotional connection with a memory-impaired person. In Shaw’s case, each member of his family had a special way of communicating their love to his wife. One of his daughters loved spending quality time sitting with her and sharing a cup of coffee. The other would play her guitar and sing words of affirmation. The third snuggled with her mom and rested her head on her mother’s shoulder.

“The 5 Love Languages” describes how individuals, in situations similar to the Shaws, communicate and receive emotional love.

The 5 Love Languages include:

1.) Words of Affirmation: unsolicited words of affection and appreciation

2.) Quality Time: giving someone your full, undivided attention

3.) Gifts: a visible symbol of love such as a purchased, handmade, or found tangible gift

4.) Acts of Service: doing helpful things for another person to lighten their load

5.) Physical Touch: deliberate touch conveying your presence to another

The author and co-authors of the book hope that “The 5 Love Languages” enables other families experiencing Alzheimer’s to enjoy the rewards of staying emotionally connected to loved ones.

Hop this is helpful!

Commander Bun Bun

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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.