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How to Deal with Dementia in a Parent

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A senior man grinning as his daughter embraces his shoulder with a warm smile

Watching a parent grapple with dementia is a challenging and emotional experience that many families face. As dementia progresses, it can be overwhelming to understand how to support and care for your loved one. And while patience and understanding can go a long way, it can still be a difficult task. 

You can be more prepared to navigate the complexities of dealing with dementia in a parent by:

  • Educating yourself
  • Opening up adaptive communication
  • Creating a support system
  • Establishing an easy routine to follow
  • Creating a safe environment for your parent
  • Maintaining the mental and physical health of you and your parent
  • Planning financially
  • Celebrating the small victories

Boden Senior Living is here to help by taking everyday tasks off your plate and creating a customized lifestyle to help you and your parents feel their best during a challenging time. 

Educating Yourself About Dementia

Begin by educating yourself about dementia and its various forms, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Understanding the nature of the condition, its symptoms, and the progression of the disease can help you anticipate challenges and plan for the future.

Numerous online resources, support groups, and healthcare professionals can provide valuable information.

Open Communication

Open and honest communication is important when dealing with dementia. Discuss the diagnosis with your parent and other family members, so you can work together and make a plan for the future.

Encourage your parent to express their feelings and preferences regarding their care, helping them maintain a sense of autonomy and dignity.

Adapt Communication Strategies

As dementia progresses, communication can become increasingly challenging. Be patient, use simple language, and maintain eye contact. Non-verbal cues and gestures often become more important if verbal communication declines.

Be Prepared to Be Patient

Dementia can manifest itself in various ways, including confusion, disorientation, agitation, and forgetfulness. It is not uncommon for people with dementia to wander off or become easily upset about minor things. 

It’s important to practice patience and empathy. You may also want to consider removing potential triggers that could cause agitation and try to provide a calm and reassuring presence.

Create a Support System

Build a strong support system involving family, friends, and healthcare professionals.

Joining local or online support groups can connect you with others facing similar challenges, providing a space to share experiences and advice.

Establish a Routine

Consistency is key when dealing with dementia. Establish a daily routine that includes regular meals, exercise, and activities. Routines can help provide structure and stability, reducing confusion and anxiety for your parent.

Build a Safe Environment 

You can modify your parent’s living space to accommodate their changing needs. Remove potential hazards, install handrails, and consider technological aids like GPS trackers or home monitoring systems. Creating a safe environment fosters your parent’s independence while minimizing the risk of accidents. 

Maintain Mental & Physical Health

Both you and your parent need to prioritize mental and physical well-being. Encourage activities that stimulate the mind, such as puzzles or games, and incorporate regular exercise into their daily routine. 

Additionally, ensure that you take breaks to avoid burnout and seek professional help when needed.

Promote Physical Activity & a Healthy Diet

While there is no known cure for dementia, promoting a healthy lifestyle can help stave off its effects. Make sure your parent eats a well-balanced diet, drinks plenty of water, and encourage regular physical exercise

These activities can help minimize the impact of dementia and help to improve your parent’s overall wellness.

Legal & Financial Planning

Addressing legal and financial matters early on can help make decisions easier in the future. Work with your parent to establish power of attorney, create a living will, and organize their financial affairs. This proactive approach can alleviate stress and prevent complications down the road.

Celebrate Small Victories

Acknowledge and celebrate small victories, no matter how minor. Whether it’s completing a puzzle or recalling a cherished memory, these moments can contribute to the overall well-being of your parent.

Avoid Caregiver Burnout

Caring for someone with dementia can be demanding and stressful. As a caregiver, it can be easy to become overwhelmed and neglect your own needs. 

Caregiver stress can lead to burnout and affect your overall well-being, which is why making time for yourself is so important. Consider seeking support from friends, family, or professional caregivers to give you a break and minimize the chance of burnout.

Prepare for Transitions

Understand that the journey with dementia is filled with transitions. As the condition progresses, transitions in care, living arrangements, and support needs may become necessary. Plan for these transitions in advance and involve your parent in the decision-making process whenever possible.

A senior woman sits at a table, holding cards next to a cup of tea and smiling. In the background, fellow seniors engage in conversation while a nurse helps out.

Navigating Dementia in a Parent

While caring for a parent with dementia can present challenges, it also provides an opportunity to strengthen the bond between parent and child. With knowledge, support, and a proactive approach, you can navigate this journey with compassion and resilience. 

Remember that you are not alone, and seeking help from healthcare professionals and support networks, such as Boden Senior Living in Coon Rapids can make a difference in the quality of life for both you and your parent. Book a tour to see how we can help.

Written by Lifespark

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