Helping A Parent With Dementia In 2023

how to get help for a parent with dementia
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What Is Dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders, that is, conditions affecting the brain. Dementia is not a single disease, it is a group of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills that are severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. Dementia is the leading cause of disability and dependency among adults aged 65 years and older. It can affect a person’s ability to communicate, think, remember, and reason. While there is no cure for dementia, treatments can help slow its progression and ease the symptoms.

The Stages of Dementia

Dementia progresses in several stages: pre-dementia, mild dementia, moderate dementia, severe dementia, and end stage dementia. Pre-dementia is the earliest stage, where a person may begin to experience memory problems but is still able to live independently. Mild dementia is the stage where a person is still able to perform basic daily activities but is beginning to experience more obvious signs of memory loss. Moderate dementia is when a person begins to have difficulty performing daily activities, such as dressing and bathing. Severe dementia is when a person is no longer able to care for themselves and needs assistance with all activities of daily living. End stage dementia is when a person loses the ability to communicate and is completely dependent on others for care.

Signs and Symptoms of Dementia

The signs and symptoms of dementia can vary depending on the type of dementia and its severity. Common signs and symptoms include memory loss, difficulty communicating or finding the right words, difficulty with spatial awareness, difficulty with reasoning or problem solving, difficulty with concentration, changes in mood and behavior, and confusion. As the condition progresses, a person may experience changes in personality, hallucinations, and delusions.

Causes of Dementia

The cause of dementia can vary depending on the type. The most common cause is Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases. Other causes of dementia include vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and mixed dementia. In some cases, dementia can be caused by a combination of diseases or conditions, such as Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. Dementia can also be caused by a head injury, stroke, or other medical conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and HIV.

Diagnosing Dementia

A diagnosis of dementia is usually made by a physician or specialist after a physical examination and a series of tests and assessments. This may include a medical history, a physical exam, a neurological exam, laboratory tests, imaging tests, and a mental status exam. The mental status exam may include tests of memory, language, problem solving, and other cognitive abilities. In some cases, a lumbar puncture may be done to check for signs of infection or other conditions that can cause dementia-like symptoms.

Treating Dementia

There is no cure for dementia, but there are treatments available to help slow its progression and ease the symptoms. This may include medications, such as cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine, which can help improve memory and thinking skills. Non-drug treatments, such as cognitive stimulation therapy and physical activity, can also be beneficial. In addition, there are emotional and practical support services available to help people living with dementia and their caregivers.

Getting Help for a Parent with Dementia

If you are caring for a parent with dementia, it is important to seek help and support. There are many resources available to help you and your parent manage the condition. These may include online resources, support groups, local organizations, and caregiving services. It is also important to talk to your parent’s doctor about the best treatment options and any special needs they may have.

Tips for Helping a Parent with Dementia

Caring for a parent with dementia can be challenging, but there are strategies you can use to make it easier. Some tips for helping a parent with dementia include: creating routines and sticking to them, providing a calm and safe environment, providing emotional support, and engaging in activities that your parent enjoys. It is also important to set boundaries, be patient, and take care of yourself. Taking breaks, getting enough sleep, and exercising are all important for your own health and well-being.


Caring for a parent with dementia can be difficult, but it is important to remember that you are not alone. There are many resources available to help you and your parent manage the condition and cope with the symptoms. It is also important to get help for yourself, as caring for a parent with dementia can be emotionally and physically draining. With the right resources, support, and strategies, you can ensure that your parent has the best quality of life possible.

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