At what stage of dementia do people stop feeling any love or caring for anything or anyone, including children?

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NEVER! Even the most demented person knows when they are being treated with love, respect and kindness. Dementia is a disease of the brain, not of the heart! Never does the heart stop feeling emotions on some level. As dementia progresses a person becomes more susceptible to emotions. When an angry or frustrated person holds an infant, the infant often becomes upset - dementia folks are just the same! Long and short of it: way after the ears and brain stop communicating the heart continues to feel!
I don't know if it will help to realize that even the most fundamental abilities and skils are eventually lost to the person with severe dementia- It may not be they don't care but they don't recognize, remember, or know how to show caring. I'm right now grieving my mom being unable to read, unable to dial me on a cell phone, and unable to make judgements about what she thinks she sees (her vision is poor). She still recognizes everyone and appreciates visits and getting new clothes and her favorite sugarfree candies and such.
Thank you both for your answers. They both make sense. I especially like the first one because I care so much about certain people and things that I can't imagine ever not caring any more, not as long as I have as much wits about me as she has. I have met all kinds of people during my lifetime but my mother is the first person, to my knowledge, that I've known that doesn't care about anything or anyone, not even herself, so I thought maybe the dementia was causing it.
She has never been a person to show much expression of love but she always talked about it as if she felt it so I thought she did. I always thought I got my ideas about love from her. But now I see no signs of caring for anything or anyone, not even herself, in any way shape or form. A few year ago, someone (one of those pillars of the church) hurt me so bad that I was practically heartbroken. When I tried to talk to her about it (I expected some comfort), she just kept looking straight ahead at the TV, saying nothing. When I tried to get her to make a response, she said she didn't know what I wanted her to say. I bet most people could think of something to say if someone hurt their child or any loved one as much as that person had hurt me.
I honestly believe that she would be just as satisfied with a mechanical robot here instead of me if it was able to do everything that needs to be done. And I don't think she would care if I sent her to the nursing home. I am doing everything in my power to keep her here at home, which I've explained to her, but she doesn't seem to care one way or the other.
I was so frustrated and upset with her this morning that I was beside myself. She is deteriorating fast, both physically and mentally, and she doesn't seen to care, because all she does in sit in her chair with her hands in her lap and stare at the TV. No matter how much I beg or hollar, she won't even try to do something to help herself, something as simple as gettig up and walking with her walker back and forth through the house except when she has to go to the toilet. I told her this morning that she's worse off than
Stephen Hawking (a severely disabled scientist) because even though he can't walk or talk, except through a computer, he still CARES. She doesn't. No matter what I say, she won't give any response. I told her that treating me like that shows exactly how much I mean to her - NOTHING. Still no response.
When her eyes got so bad that it wasn't easy to see, instead of trying to use a magnifying glass (said it had a glare on it), she quit reading.
If it isn't the dementia, what could possibly make a person so totally empty of feeling?? If she didn't have alzheimers, I'd take her to a psychiatrist.
Sue,I think you are beating your self up to much,and possibly expecting to much from your mom.You have to stop expecting a sick person to react the way you see fit.My dad did not have ALZ ,BUT I did struggle with what you are going through.From what I understand it is not the same with each person that is sick,you can do the best you can do and thats it.I remember shamefully for the first time my dad acted [weird] I said are you tripping on acid.The second time,I said your losing it daddy.When I realized how sick he was,I felt very guilty,but I responded out of ignorance.The last few months he stopped watching TV,HE stopped petting his best friend Lucky dog,WHICH was always one of the first things he asked about.MY daughter his granddaughter was the last thing he talked about-Take care of his little angel,he said and died 10 minutes later.
I think it depends on the type of dementia, but a geriatric expert could help you determine that. Some types of dementia will cause the personality of the sufferer to develop a kind of blunted effect, so it SEEMS like they don't love or care like they once did. But it is just the disease of the brain causing this.....inside they still do love and care. There is still a heart and a soul in there, and dignified care is still what they need. After a while, we the caregivers get used to not "getting back" what we used to "get" from our parents who have dementia. It helps to recall the distinct memories we have of the parent, as his/her younger and healthier self--- mentally whole, compassionate, and empathetic.
Thanks for answering but I don't understand. If a person feels love inside, how does having an illness make them choose to stay home in front of the TV on Thanksgiving or Christmas instead of choosing to be with the people they allegedly feel love for?
My Mother, who went to church all her llife until two years ago this past September, allegedly loved God too but after she came home from the hospital after having fallen and broken her hip, which she came through with flying colors, never went back to church again.
She used her legs as an excuse (that's one of her favorites) but she manages to get to the doctors and back. She also hasn't said the "blessing" at her meals since then either, that I know of. She used to say it faithfully at every meal. When I asked her about why she doesn't say it any more and is she mad at God, as is customary with her, she wouldn't give me any answer. How can an illness cause her not want to go to church any more (she watches a couple services on TV) or say the blessing any more?
I really don't understand what one has to do with the other.
Depression makes you feel empty of emotion inside, or makes you feel a kind of pain where you know there is supposed to be connection and joy instead, maybe she is avoiding the emotions. Depression really does hurt and suck all the zest out of life, even if you have faith and believe.

My mom also avoids many things she used to enjoy with or without us becuase they are too cognitively difficult or embarrassing for her. She stopped going anywhere except to the doctors also when she could still travel - got in a van to see my dad maybe once every week or two then stopped that too. Culturally that's what people of that generation do, its the old "sick role" whichis also embodied in Medicare policy; the only obilgation the sick person has is to get better, they are otherwise supposed to just stay home and let other things goo by the wayside. Frankly, it makes people embarce invalidism when applied to chronic rather than short-term situations but that's another story.

I have had to comfort myself with the realization that Mom is doing what she thinks is right and it is not for me to take that away from her. She does not think she should do things that she can no longer do well and prefers strongly not to face or discuss any negative emotions, or any possibility of criticism as she is also very perfectionist.
I had no idea demented people could still feel love for other people. How do you know they can? Some of them can't remember their children, other family members, friends. How can the demented still feel love for those people if they don't recognize them? I'm sorry I don't quite believe it's possible. I'll have to consider this bit of information for a while before I form an opinion.

I agree with vstefans, depression can be a huge factor in not caring. I think people with dementia can get depressed.
I have heard about cases where dementia will present itself in someone following an accident, surgery, or hospitalization for some kind of "crisis". Mystery Sue, you mentioned your mother's broken hip and subsequent hospitalization, and I wondered about this. I know, it is so sad to see these serious cognitive changes in our parents, and also personality changes which are a startling departure from their former selves. I have seen them in my father, who is like a different and new person. I cried many tears in my pillow several years ago when I first recognized the unmistakable changes occurring in his personality. Dementia has to be one of the hardest things to witness in a loved one. I guess we'll never really know for sure what or how much the elder with dementia is far as love or affection. But you never know....because the other day my father started weeping out of the blue about something which reminded him of his deceased child. It shocked me, because I didn't know "feelings" like that were still possible for him.....but there it was for me to see. He was expressing deep emotion. And then the moment passed, and he returned to his former state of seeming blank and unemotional. But I'm thankful I saw that because I apply even more care now to my interactions with him.
Maggiesue, memory is a skill, and love is something the most unskilled person in the world might still have to give and receive. Think about my mom forgetting my birthday for the first time. I can tell you she still wants to give me money she does not have and she still relates to me otherwise as she always has. Now iif her memory and track of time were intact, I would have had to take her omitting my birthday as a sign she was angry or no longer cared, but that's obviously not the case. SImilarly, there is a condition called prosopagnosia or face blindness in which face recognition is impaired. Lack of recognition of close family members out of context can occur, and in severe cases maybe even in context. The defect causing this is localized to a small area of the non-dominant temporoparietal cortex - there is no impairment of judgement or empathy, and most of these folks have any number of clever workarounds for their problem - so that others don't judge that they are ignorant or do not care enough to remember a face!.

There is research showing differential physiological responses to familiar versus unfamiliar people that is not otherwise apparent. One article I read specifically about Alzheminers describes it as losing memories from present to past - so that first a grandchild born a few years ago would not exist in that person's conscious memory, then maybe a second spouse of a decade long marriage, then maybe the person does not remember the deaths of their own parents and wants to call them. This may be hard to hear, that there is still a person inside that dementia masks in such a way, but maybe a comfort in some way too.

Once when my Dad was having a bad day, my son just kind of assumed that we wanted to get out of thee ASAP and "that's not Dad anymore" but I know I found the opposite was true the more time I spent just hanging out and doing whatever he was still able to do. Everyone who got to know him realized who he really was, his likes and dislikes, despite his various inabilities.

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