Sadness, joy, appreciation, fear—emotions of many colors still register with your loved one. The difference: it’s difficult now to express them. Just knowing that your loved one still experiences emotions can help make your time together more meaningful and help you improve his or her quality of life.

Watch closely, and you’ll learn the patterns that are unique to your loved one. For example:

  • Are your loved one’s eyes open wide or shut? Are they tracking you or looking away? Tearing up?

  • Are the teeth clenched, or is the mouth relaxed?

  • What’s the nature of the sounds that are made during certain experiences? A distressed moan may come to sound different from a pleased one.

Many caregivers say they can see whole messages—“Thank you,” “I love you”—written on the face, even if no longer uttered aloud.