How to Give an "Alzheimer's Hug"

All Rights Reserved

You can telegraph caring and love for someone with dementia with a simple hug. Communication with body language -- especially touch -- is easily understood even as other language skills (like interpreting the meaning of words or following a conversation) become more difficult. And touch is reassuring when so much feels uncertain.

Believe it or not, there's a best way to hug someone with dementia:

Ideally, approach from the front so the person has a visual cue. Approaching from behind or beginning to hug before your face is seen can be frightening.

Make sure your hug is of sufficient length -- seven seconds is a good rule of thumb. That's long enough that your loved one really gets the message of your intention. A perfunctory hug can be too quick to register.

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

over 3 years, said...

I have an unusual situation. My wife who likes to eat out all the time, always goes to the bathroom before we leave the restaurant. When she doesn't come out for a long time, I go in and she always says she is fine to leave her alone. I sometimes have to open the door, pull her up off the toilet and I hug her as sometimes she is shaking. She is mad for a minute, but then gets herself together. I do think the hug calms her down.

about 4 years, said...

Never knew to come for a hug from the front and to hold for seven seconds. Appreciate that!

over 4 years, said...

Thank you for this tip.....Most friends who visits, including myself, always do a quick hug. Now I will let my family and others know.

almost 6 years, said...

I have the problem of my father giving to many hugs to just random women and not letting go.can anyone give me some advice O'how to deal with this any help would be appreciated