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I am a Social Worker and have worked with people dealing with dementia for quite awhile.  My father had dementia of the Alzheimer's type (he was 88).  My husband (63) has dementia due to Traumatic Brain Injury. (dementia pugelistica).  I have found both professionally and personally that the person we know and love is "still there" at least the essence of who they are--their spirit/soul.  They may not be able to relate or communicate the way they use to be able to but they are there.  Talking with them, holding their hand, hugging them, touching them, and just being there with them is beneficial.  A client related a beautiful experience with her mother about 4 days before she died. Her mother was aphasic (flat facial expressions, no communications) and had been for months.  My client would sit with her, talk with her, comb her hair and do all the things she would do as when her mother was able to respond.  Her mother never gave her any indication that she even knew who she was.  Just "out of the blue" her mother looked at her and said "Linda, I  love you, you are a wonderful daughter, thank you."  She never said anything after that; she developed a respiratory infection and died just a short time later.  Proof that the person is still in there?  It was enough for me.