What is Dementia?
Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is an example. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. It’s a progressive, degenerative disorder that affects the parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language. A person with Alzheimer’s may have difficulty recognizing family and friends, remembering recent events and conversations, and making decisions. It can be hard to accept that someone you care about has dementia, and it can be even harder to know how to best care for that person.
How to Deal with a Parent with Dementia
When a parent is diagnosed with dementia, it can be difficult to know how to best care for them and provide the support they need. Here are some steps you can take to help your parent manage their dementia and keep them healthy and safe.
Create a Support Network
One of the best things you can do to help your parent manage their dementia is to create a support network of family, friends, and care professionals. This can include immediate family, extended family, friends, and health care professionals who can provide help and support. Having a support network can help your parent feel safe and secure, and can provide emotional and practical support.
Staying informed about dementia will help you better understand your parent’s condition and how to best care for them. There are many resources available online and in print that can help you learn more about dementia and how to provide the best care for your parent.
Make a Plan
Creating a plan for your parent’s care is an important step in ensuring they get the care they need. This plan should include the roles and responsibilities of family, friends, and health care professionals, as well as a list of the care and support your parent needs now and in the future. It’s also important to document your parent’s preferences and wishes, and make sure they are followed.
Watch for Signs of Distress
It can be difficult to know how to respond when your parent is showing signs of distress, such as confusion, agitation, or aggression. The best thing you can do is to remain calm and try to understand what is causing the distress. It may be helpful to talk to a health care professional for advice on how to handle these situations.
Provide Stimulating Activities
Providing stimulating activities can help your parent maintain their independence and slow the progression of their dementia. Activities can include puzzles, board games, music, reading, and crafts. These activities can help your parent retain their cognitive skills and can also provide a much-needed social outlet.
Encouraging your parent to remain independent is important for their mental and physical health. This can include simple tasks such as helping them dress, cook, and clean. It can also involve helping them to stay connected to their friends and family. Allowing your parent to continue to do the things they enjoy will help them to maintain their independence and self-esteem.
Manage Stress and Anxiety
Managing stress and anxiety is important for your parent’s mental health. It’s important to create a calming environment, such as playing soothing music or providing gentle massage. It can also be helpful to talk to your parent about their feelings and try to understand where they are coming from.
Make Time for Yourself
Caring for a parent with dementia can be a stressful and often overwhelming experience. It’s important to take time for yourself and do activities that make you feel relaxed, such as exercise, yoga, or reading. It’s also important to reach out to family and friends for emotional and practical support.
Caring for a parent with dementia can be a difficult and challenging experience. However, by creating a support network, staying informed, making a plan, watching for signs of distress, providing stimulating activities, encouraging independence, managing stress and anxiety, and taking time for yourself, you can help your parent manage their dementia and provide the best care and support possible.