Gary Chapman's The 5 Love Languages sheds new light on loving through dementia

Book Review

If the measure of a book is how often I have purchased it to give to others, then The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman is my favourite book. Particularly as the vast majority of those I have given it to have been non-Christians, for whom it has powerfully helped and given them beautiful glimpses of Jesus’ love. I typically don’t give it to Christians simply because they already have it!

However, being a New York Times bestseller (now translated into 50 languages and with over 20 million copies sold) has a catch – making sure the sequels are equally exceptional! So, when I saw Keeping Love Alive as Memories Fade: The 5 Love Languages and the Alzheimer’s Journey, I was cynical, due mainly to my experience as an aged care chaplain/advocate. I read it primarily as part of my practice of keeping across the literature.

Thankfully my cynicism was transformed into not simply thanksgiving, but joy as I read beyond the cover.

Keeping Love Alive is not simply a rewrite of the original with a focus on dementia. Debbie Barr (lead author) weaves the medical science about dementia, with the brutally honest and profound testimony of Rebecca and Edward Shaw (a couple living with early-onset Alzheimer’s), applying Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages’ insights into the different ways people give and receive love.

All this is communicated in an incredibly easy-to-read, profound style that challenged my thinking and repeatedly moved me to tears.

For both professional and personal reasons, I have not simply read but own almost all the Christian literature and the majority of the secular material on engaging with people living with dementia. Indeed, I regularly speak and write on the topic. So, I can boldly say there is no other material in print, audio or video, which come close to Keeping Love Alive, in terms of inspiring, equipping and supporting families and particularly spouses of people living with dementia.

Like its predecessor 5 Love Languages books, Keeping Love Alive while clearly written by people who have been transformed by the saving love of Jesus, is not strictly speaking a ‘Christian’ book. It is, however, a wonderful blessing and makes an exceptional gift for anyone who has a loved one living with dementia irrespective of their worldview.

I heartily recommend this book; indeed, I have purchased extra copies so I can give them away.


Keeping Love Alive as Memories Fade: The 5 Love Languages and the Alzheimer’s Journey (Northfield Publishing, 2016) is available as a paperback, e-book and audio-book at Koorong