Dealing with a parent that has dementia is difficult. It can be emotionally taxing, and you may feel overwhelmed by the situation. It is important to remember that the person you love is still there and that you can still have meaningful interactions with them. This guide will help you understand what dementia is and how you can best support your parent as they deal with this condition.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is a group of symptoms that are caused by changes in brain function. It is characterized by a decline in cognitive function, such as memory, language, and problem solving. It can also cause changes in behavior and personality. Dementia can be caused by a number of conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, or head trauma. It is a progressive condition, meaning it will get worse over time.
Taking Care of Yourself
It is important to remember to take care of yourself when dealing with a parent that has dementia. Supporting a loved one with dementia can be emotionally and physically draining. Make sure to take breaks, talk to a therapist, or find other outlets to help you cope with the situation. Additionally, it is important to stay connected to other family members and friends who can provide support.
Communicating with Your Parent
Communicating with a parent who has dementia can be challenging, as they may not remember things or have difficulty expressing themselves. Try to be patient and understanding. Speak slowly and clearly, and use simple language. Ask open-ended questions that can help your parent express themselves. For example, instead of asking “Do you want to go for a walk?”, you could say “What do you think about going for a walk?”
Helping with Activities of Daily Living
As dementia progresses, you may need to help with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, and eating. Make sure to give your parent time to complete tasks on their own. If they need help, offer it in a gentle and supportive manner. Encourage them to do as much as they can on their own, as this can help them maintain their independence.
Keeping Your Parent Engaged
It is important to keep your parent engaged and active. This can help slow the progression of the disease. Try to find activities that your parent enjoys or that were important to them in the past. This could include hobbies, outings, or other activities. You can also try engaging in activities together, such as playing cards or doing puzzles.
Seeking Help from Professionals
It is important to seek help from professionals who are experienced in dealing with dementia. There are a variety of resources available, such as support groups, respite care, and home health aides. Consulting a doctor can also help you understand your parent’s condition and develop a plan for managing it.
Making Plans for the Future
It is important to make plans for the future, as dementia is a progressive condition. Think about your parent’s wishes and make decisions accordingly. This may include making plans for end-of-life care or arranging for long-term care. It is important to discuss these plans with other family members, as well as your parent, to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Dealing with a parent that has dementia can be difficult, but it is important to remember that they are still the same person you love. It is important to take care of yourself and seek help from professionals. Additionally, focus on keeping your parent engaged and making plans for the future. With patience and understanding, you can help make your parent’s life as comfortable as possible.