I'm not sure if this is a question that can be asked here (or even answered) but I'd like to try.

My grandpa is almost 80 and has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's a little over a year ago. Since then I feel like he is loosing interest in life.

He used to be a self-employed and managed his business together with my grandma. He used to be a craftsman who drove around the local area and worked with his hands all the time. He enjoyed spending time with his customers and knows almost everybody in the village he comes from. When he stopped working about 15 years ago his son took over the business which he runs to this day. Grandpa always did some business on the side afterwards, which kept him busy. He has always been helpful, generous, compasionate, loving and funny to his whole family.

In recent months he:

  • had to stop driving, because it became too dangerous
  • had to stop working, because his body wasn't able to sustain it (to be clear it was a "hobby" for him, he doesn't have to work)
  • stopped caring about news and politics (which he was happy to discuss in the past)
  • cares less and less about football (which was very important to him)
  • sleeps for some time in the morning and expanded his afternoon sleep

It crushes me to see him like that. So far he still recognizes his family, but I can see his memory slowly fade away. My grandparents get visited about 5-8 times a week by family members and I visit them 2-3 times a month. When we're with them, we mostly talk and spend time with grandma and grandpa sits there and rarely takes part in the conversation.

I can understand, why he acts like this. If my ability to do the things I like (and had been doing for more than 50 years) was taken away and it was difficult for me to learn new things (memory...) I wouldn't know if I was able to keep my spirits up.


  • Is there something that can be done, or do I/we have to accept the situation?
  • What can we talk about that he takes an interest in, or how to can we invite him into the conversation?

2 Answers 2


This sounds more like depression that Alzheimer's.

To be clear, the Alzheimer's isn't gone and will progress over time, but the current changes in behavior are quite typical for depression. Try consulting a psychologist and getting therapy for your grandpa. Ask the psychologist what you can do to make your granspas life better.

As to what you can do now:

  • Try to include him in the conversation, even if he doesn't answer.
  • Inform him about all things that interested him before. Don't let him loose this connection to his former self.
  • Impaired hearing could cause him to retreat from conversations. Speak loudly and articulate clearly, but still keep your tone natural. Remember he isn't an infant, so don't speak to him like you would to an infant or child.
  • Include him in social activities like playing cards or board games. Listen to his favorite songs. Anything that he likes (or liked) to do and can be done togehter.
  • Greet him with good news and remind him of happy events in his past. Scientists found that after an event that caused positive emotions, people with Alzheimer's stay in a good mood even after they forgot what caused that mood. They also found that with increasing age, people tend to remember negative events longer that happy events (see the study below).

One of many studies about "Emotional Memory in Patients with Alzheimer's Disease" states:

Lastly, we know from experience that a favorable environment is helpful in managing patients with AD [Alzheimer's Disease]. Both of our patients retained memory of their family member's death even at FAST stage 6 (moderately severe dementia), indicating that patients with AD may retain memory for highly negative events over a long period even with disease progression.

  • Thank you. That's an interesting point I hadn't thought about - I'll research the topic and report back.
    – Maurice
    Commented Jul 15, 2018 at 16:46

My grandfather is 98 and going through the same thing. Sometimes it just helps to talk as if they're a part of things, even if they're not participating. Frustration is not your friend, as it only makes both of you unhappy and solves nothing.

If you want positive things to do, try tying current events to ones in the past. "Look, grandpa! There's a boat! It looks a lot like that boat you used to have." Or, "Man, this cabinet door sure is flimsy. They don't make them like they used to, do they?"

Allowing him to feel like he's participating while he's reminiscing will boost his confidence, and hopefully encourage him to speak more often.

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