How to Give an "Alzheimer's Hug"

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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