How to Help a Parent with Dementia

When your mom or dad is diagnosed with dementia, your first instinct is probably to want to help them somehow. All of you are facing an unknown in terms of dementia symptoms and illness progression, along with what types of support will be needed.

A healthcare provider can offer some general guidelines and recommendations to the family. In addition, we have some insights for adult children who are coping with a parent’s dementia diagnosis.

How to Talk to a Parent with Dementia

The symptoms of dementia can change from person to person and also evolve as the disease progresses so there is not a one size fits all approach. Homewatch CareGivers takes a person-centered approach to caregiving so that the individual preferences of each client are integrated into the care plan.

One way to help a parent with dementia is to always strive for calm and patient communication with your loved one, even when they are forgetful or exhibiting signs of misplaced anger or frustration, which can be symptoms of dementia.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, some of the common communication challenges for someone who is living with dementia might be:

  • Trouble finding the right words
  • Speaking less often
  • Describing an object rather than using its name
  • Losing their train of thought
  • Using gestures more often

When these things happen, it is recommended that loved ones and other caregivers keep their cool.

  1. Just because someone has been diagnosed with dementia, you shouldn’t assume they will have or are having these symptoms. Give them time to articulate what they need to say.
  2. Speak directly to this person and not about them to others in the same room.
  3. Don’t interrupt as they find their words.
  4. Ask if they prefer to speak face-to-face, via writing on a piece of paper, or by text so they have the choice to do what feels right to them.
  5. Avoid criticizing, arguing, or correcting.
  6. Always treat this person with respect and do not talk down to them.

Your words and actions with them do matter and although your parent has dementia, they still have feelings.

How to Deal with Dementia in a Parent

It can be hard to watch a parent with dementia change as the illness progresses. It’s important to know that you are not alone and that while you may also become a caregiver, your self-care is very important.

Know the signs of caregiver burnout and have a plan in place to mitigate this stress and overwhelm for your well-being.

Seek out professionals, such as trained and skilled caregivers, who can take on some of the caregiving duties that you are not able to do or are not comfortable doing. During the middle and later stages of dementia, people typically need more hands-on care such as assistance with bathing, grooming, and dressing. For an adult child, this can be too physically demanding or just plain awkward.

During the early stages of the disease, if you live near your parent, you might be able to help with more basic tasks such as:

  • Taking regular walks in the neighborhood
  • Join in activities that they enjoy doing whether it’s a painting class or gardening in the backyard
  • Meal preparation
  • Light housekeeping

For those who do not live close enough to a parent to participate in these types of daily activities, consider hiring a caregiver for active care that can contribute to their overall well-being.

How to Deal with An Angry Dementia Parent

Aggression and anger are symptoms seen in many people who are living with dementia. It can be startling and upsetting when your parent with dementia has an outburst, whether it is directed at you or not.

Remain calm when your parent becomes upset and contact their healthcare provider for a check-up. There can be many reasons that someone who is living with dementia exhibits these behaviors and a family member or caregiver can immediately look for clues, which can also be shared with their doctor.

Check their surroundings for these possible triggers:

  • Are they over-stimulated by too many people in their space or loud noises from outside or the TV or radio?
  • Do these moods seem to happen at certain times of the day, such as early evening?
  • Is the person feeling lost or confused?

Some simple tactics to maintain a soothing environment include a selection of familiar music that they enjoy, beloved objects to see daily, healthy meals and nutritious snacks, and exercise.

Ask for Help with Dementia Care

Homewatch CareGivers offers dementia care services for all stages of this illness. After a diagnosis, it can help the whole family to know what care options are available in the area—from cost to services. This knowledge can inform how much family members can and will need to do for their loved ones.

Get Care Today or find out what services your parent with dementia can benefit from with Homewatch CareGivers.

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