Dementia: Is Life Still Meaningful?

The sentiments in an article written by: Michael B. Friedman, LMSW and John Zeisel, Ph.D., a discussion regarding whether or not life remains meaningful to an individual living with dementia and more specifically, how family members might affect this are especially important for families who are experiencing the cognitive decline of a parent or loved-one.

Can you as an adult-child still have a meaningful relationship with your parent? Friedman and Zeisel provide valuable insight to this question.

What I might add to the conversation is; while Friedman/Zeisel assert expectations and actions can be managed to afford a relationship at some level, I believe an even stronger relationship can be preserved when family elects to focus on the relationship rather than on the day-to-day cares.

One of the greatest benefits of engaging the services of an in-home care agency to assist Mom or Dad with activities of daily living (hygiene, housekeeping, transportation, medication reminders, etc) is positioning the family to focus on the relationship with their loved one rather than being overwhelmed by the chores of everyday living.

In whatever form your relationship with your parent takes from your perspective, take heart knowing that very relationship IS what gives life meaning for Mom or Dad.

I share the following excerpts from the Friedman/Zeisel article that compelled me to share this information with all adult-children of aging parents. These feelings are a large part of why family members find it difficult and emotionally challenging to provide direct care to Mom or Dad. Based on experience, professional caregivers recognize true relationships have nothing to do with day-to-day cares. These can be accomplished by a third-party. So, do yourself a favor and consider providing the gift of care that allows you and your loved-one the opportunity to sustain your relationship and increase the chances life remains meaningful.

“It may seem impossible for the person you care about to get meaningful satisfaction out of a life so different from the life she or he lived before cognitive decline. It may seem impossible to have a meaningful and satisfying relationship with a parent, spouse, a partner or a friend with whom you can no longer have in-depth conversations. It may seem that they cannot possibly find life worth living.”

“People with significant cognitive limits can get satisfaction out of life, and it is possible for us to have meaningful relationships with them — if we learn to shift what we want and expect from them, see the person who is still inside, and develop the capacity to live in the emotional moment.”

The full article can be found at:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *