How to Spend Quality Time With Someone Who Has Advanced Dementia

Some days, are you feeling plumb out of one-way conversation material? Many caregivers report this curious feeling, when you're glad to be there at an uncommunicative loved one's side yet are at a loss for words after many days like this. Know that you don't need to fill up the silence with empty chatter.

Try these wonderful ways to spend quality time with a loved one who has advanced dementia:

  • Simply sit in companionable silence, holding hands. Let the language of touch do the talking for you. If your loved one would like it, gently stroke a scented lotion into his or her hand while you sit.

  • Start humming. The tune doesn't really matter (old hymns, holiday tunes, Beatles hits, nursery songs, or "Happy Birthday" all work). You'll set a comforting tone and will feel more relaxed.

  • Talk not about everyday odds and ends but about your life narrative. Weave the story of your lives together, starting at the beginning. It's like storytelling, but the characters, details, and plot aren't made up; they're true. This can be deeply satisfying to both talker and listener, whether you perceive a response or not.

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