5 Mood Boosters for Someone With Severe-Stage Dementia

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Ever think, "Why do I bother?" If you find yourself wondering if your interactions with your loved one make any difference -- since so little seems to be remembered -- take comfort and inspiration from this 2010 University of Iowa study.

It that showed that in people with memory loss, warm feelings associated with a positive interaction -- a joke, a visit -- stick around long after the experience itself is forgotten. Even when the event is immediately forgotten, a better mood seems to persist for a day or longer. Sad emotions (as from a bad experience) last longest.

Some easy day-brighteners:

  • Go outside. Nature is restorative for people of any health status, research shows. You can wheel someone in a wheelchair to a back garden or the front porch. Or just open a window.

  • Bring nature indoors. On a sunny day, position your loved one in the warm rays (taking care sun doesn't hit the eyes, of course). Bring fresh flowers into the house. Or set up (or restock) a bird feeder where it can easily be watched.

  • Massage the skin. Wash your loved one's feet or hands in a sponge bath, and apply lotion with a pleasing scent.

  • Play favorite music more loudly than usual. Sometimes listening to nothing but a stirring opera or lively jazz, really surrendering to the music, can stir the soul.

  • Invite a pet over. Many people with severe dementia enjoy petting a dog or cat, or just watching it. Be sure it's a calm animal.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio