Critter Corner: My Dad Doesn’t Recognize Me; is it Still Worth Visiting?


Dear Magic,

My dad is in a nursing home, and has dementia. I visited him a lot when he first got there, but my visits have tapered off a bit. I’m not sure if he knows who I am anymore, or if there is a benefit to him if I visit. Visiting him can be emotionally draining, but I’d gladly continue going if I knew it was beneficial for him. In his current state, is he getting anything out of my visits?


Cee Endad


Dear Cee,

A recent survey found that 42% of the public think it’s pointless to stay in contact with loved ones who have dementia, after they are unable to recognize the faces of family and friends. 

Contrary to what most people think, advocates and researchers stress that family and friends SHOULD stay active in the lives of their loved ones with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.  This is because, although it seems they may not recognize you, studies show that there is a strong emotional memory and long lasting benefits from visits from loved ones. Even people with advanced dementia can still hold an emotional and energetic memory, meaning that they remember how someone made them feel, and they sense a loved one’s energy, long after they have forgotten the event that brought those feelings.

Here are the top reasons, according to Evan Farr, to continue visiting your dad even though he has advanced dementia:

  1. First and most importantly, love is not a memory. Love is a feeling — the most powerful feeling in the universe— and love never goes away no matter whether your dad recognizes you or can verbally express his love.
  2. Even if he is unable to remember your name or your relationship, he still remembers the underlying YOU —  your physical and emotional and energetic presence. 
  3. On a spiritual level, your father’s soul — his true self — will continue to recognize your soul, no matter what is happening in his physical brain. If you are not a spiritual person who believe this, I encourage you to read some or all of the books on Evan Farr’s spiritual book list. Regardless of your current religious or spiritual views, if you have ANY doubt whatsoever about the reality of the soul or eternal life, Evan encourages you to read some or all of these books. If you have very limited time, start with either one of the first two listed.
  4. He probably enjoys your visits even if he can not remember who you are. If he smiles at you at any time, you can be assured that your visit is making a meaningful impact. 
  5. Opportunities to socialize and visit might put him in a better mood and help him relax.

So, I encourage you to visit your father when you can. It probably means more to him than you know!

Hop this is helpful,

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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.