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Love and Dementia

Presentation Overview
Love is a universal and unique emotion, thought to have existed across all cultures since humans first evolved. What happens to the experience of love in the face of dementia, in both the person with the condition, their intimate partner, and their children? All types of dementia are associated with neuropathology in brain regions known to be involved in love. Therefore, it should be no surprise that the experience and expression of love might change in the context of dementia. Furthermore, the cognitive, emotional and behavioural changes that accompany dementia mean that it is often the person’s intimate partner and/or children who first notice the condition, with various consequences to their love and relationships over time. Three types of experiences of love in people with dementia, their partners and children are described in this presentation: (1) enhanced, (2) altered, and (3) loss of love. Case examples are provided for each type, and are drawn from the first author’s clinical practice and published cases in medical journals and non-fiction literature. Overall, the cases demonstrate that dementia can change love, for better or worse.

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