How to Cope When Someone With Severe Dementia No Longer Recognizes You

Not being recognized is distressing for dementia family members. It happens at different stages (especially by mid-severe stage); it may never happen to you at all. But if it does, it helps to be prepared.

Try to dwell less on whether your name is known and used correctly and more on the underlying emotional truth. Does the person seem to recognize your presence as a friendly one? Do you get a smile or sense of calm from him or her?

Avoid the temptation to check in with a test: "Hi, Mom! Do you know who this is?" Or, "Bob! Remember me?" Compare that with the warmer setup you provide by saying, "Hi, Mom, it's your oldest daughter Anna, come to see you again. I'm so happy to see you because I sure love you."

Don't stress, though, if things reach the point where you get no response at all. Whether or not you can discern a different response between the two examples above, the first approach creates stress and anxiety in the person with dementia, as if he or she were being tested. The latter response telegraphs affection and warmth, a much better starting place -- even if it's not fully understood.


6 months ago, said...

my mother no longer recognizes me, she spends most of her day going from room to room looking for me, i am her full time carer and have been for a number of years. i am one of nine children and the only one she dose not recognize. No matter how many time i same i am Elaine or how many family members tell her who i am she still fails to recognize me. she feels that she has been abandon by her daughter(me) after being her carer for so long and dose not understand why i would do this to her. she is getting very upset by this. How do i carm her down and make her feel at ease with the new me (she had given me a new name Mary) she feels very scared and alone. any tip would be great as it breaks my heart to see her cry for me and me standing beside her


about 2 years ago, said...

The approach tactics is helpful to know as I don't want to cause my mom any more bad stress as I took her from my brother's care which was really in poor like conditions he fed her coffee and crackers and peanut butter and locked her in a room too with no bathroom so she did on herself a really poor site had a stroke and UTI among many more too long, so fought in court with them and yes she is with me more taking care of and smells great instead like she fell in a septic tank. Still fighting with the other siblings cause she is well taken care of now.


over 2 years ago, said...

My wife is now in her fourth month residing in a secure Alzheimer's disease facility. Fortunately, it is only a fifteen minute drive from our house. So I am able to visit on a regular and frequent basis. She remembers me and greets me warmly. She is still sociable with me and others. Several visitors, old and current friends, have come by (with me) and I am pretty sure that although they are recognized, the names don't come. But this doesn't stop warm and friendly interaction. I am very hopeful that when I am no longer remembered, we will still be able to retain a friendly and indeed, a loving relationship. I attribute this to the right medication now and the fact that she is mainly being cared for by folks who have training in caring for AD patients. I try to visit in conjunction with some activity going on at the facility. This takes away the need for continuous "conversation". Thanks for alerting me about this..


over 2 years ago, said...

I was one of the fortunate wife's that was recognized by site and then the sound of my voice the day before he passed. And I also believe he knew my voice on the day of his passing, the 26th, April, 2014. I'm am missing him dearly, but I know he is in a better place. God Bless everyone on this site who have helped me through this terrible disease for the past year. My husband was diagnoised with alzheimers/dementia in August, 2004.


over 3 years ago, said...

Strangely, the few times it has happened (so far), it has been re-assuring that we have done the right thing by her (by lodging her in a personal care home in her city 2 hours away from us - she DID NOT want to move in with us). She herself was a mental health professional and did not want to burden us with daily care. She seems contented with her routine, happy to see us when we do come to visit, and fine when we leave. (We always bring her chocolates or donuts.) When we enter her room, my husband usually says, 'Hi Mom, look Mary has brought you some donuts.' and I'll respond 'Well, John there's some here for you, too!' This gives her the clues as to what our names are without us being obvious.


almost 4 years ago, said...

not there yet, but always looking for info to help prepare


almost 4 years ago, said...

Like the positive approach. good information


about 4 years ago, said...

I agree, these comments and feedback are great! It's a hard disease to watch and be part of but realizing what we're dealing with helps us realize the hard times are us talking to the disease, the good times are a gift.


over 4 years ago, said...

Great site...


almost 5 years ago, said...

uoto now my wife recognizes us.


almost 5 years ago, said...

it was hard to understand at first. then it was like wow. he has mid stage demtia. mom is my hero. her faith i moved in with them it Was very helpful for mom i love my pops and my two sisters. are to far away one doesnt care. pops is always singing. is it true they remmber there childhood? we sing ol songs together and take rides everyday he loves it we have are good memory days and are not so good over all he is growing gracious. thank you for this box. such comfort were not alone


almost 5 years ago, said...

thank you for this website my father calls me lilly and sometimes maria. he gets paronoid but feels comfoted when we talk, and he always calls for me how many years does one last he is 86now healthy i love him dearly and mom too. he calls her lady pretty lady. its hard for her at times. thank you for this comfort of a website


about 5 years ago, said...

This article is exactly what I've experienced with my mother (mid-severe stage Alheimer's). I am sharing this with my family, as some of my sisters insist on quizzing her every time they visit. Their purpose is to try to determine if mom remembers more or less than a previous visit. My experience has been that some days she will remember me, other days not. It seems more like she has "good memory days" and "bad memory days" and quizzing her isn't a good indicator of her overall decline in condition.


about 5 years ago, said...

Hi It was helpful Tell the person who you are and not asked them who you are. All your messages are so helpful Thanks


about 5 years ago, said...

All of your advice is most helpful


over 5 years ago, said...

How to respond.


over 5 years ago, said...

MY WIFE KNOWS ME IN THE MORNING=LATE AFTER NOON I'AM A GOOD FRIND.


over 5 years ago, said...

This is an awesome site!!! as it is helping me out alot .. thank you so much. U hit the nail.. right on!!..


over 5 years ago, said...

When my 94 year old mom with dementia doesn't remember me, I remind myself that the important thing is I remember her. I am comforted knowing she is getting my love and the best care possible in the late winter of her life.


over 5 years ago, said...

I did go see my mother yesterday in the nursing home.. as I approach her and sat down with her.. I said hello and how r u.. she said she was fine and said a man was singing for them. I told her yes I hear and see that.. that it was good music... very soothing. She was so into the music .. I dare not interfere and quietly I left. She did not follow me as I looked back. My mother did not know who I was???.. only tells me .. she is moving into the next last stage of her alzhiemers.... thanks so much .. my family/siblings do not understand what I am going thru