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How to Cope with Dementia in an Aging Parent

Strategies to Help Family Members Cope with Dementia in their Loved Ones

Dementia is difficult to deal with, both for the person who is experiencing it and for their loved ones. If you have a parent or loved one who is showing signs of dementia, it can be tough to know what to do.

Today, we are going to offer some advice for family members who are dealing with dementia in their aging parent. We will discuss some tips for managing symptoms, as well as ways to provide support for your loved one.

Remain Patient and Positive with Your Loved One

The most important thing you can do when dealing with dementia in a parent is to remain patient and positive. This may be difficult, especially if they are starting to display agitated or hostile behavior.

Dementia symptoms can cause feelings of disorientation and distress in a person, resulting in possible shifts in mood or behavior patterns. They are struggling to adapt to this new reality in their lives and may not always be aware of how these changes are affecting them. Be patient with yourself and your loved one while transitioning to a “new normal” and try to offer support where needed.

Speak Plainly and Clearly with Them

When conversing with your loved one, use clear and concise language. Dementia can cause a person to lose some of their cognitive abilities, including the ability to understand complex sentences or follow a conversation. Speak plainly and clearly, using short phrases and avoiding idioms or slang terms.

When asking questions, try to phrase them around simple “yes” or “no” answers. For example, instead of saying “what would you like to eat for dinner?”, try: “Would you like chicken for dinner?”. This subtle shift allows you to obtain a direct answer while also removing the need for them to consider multiple options.

Keep Their Daily Tasks Simple and Repeatable

Since dementia can cause a person to lose some of their abilities to perform basic functions, it is important to keep their daily tasks simple and repeatable. This will help them stay organized and avoid becoming overwhelmed.

Try to stick to familiar routines as much as possible and break down more complex tasks into smaller, easier-to-manage steps. When possible, keep the same people involved in your loved one’s day-to-day life to minimize confusion.

Encourage Them to Stay Engaged and Active

Seniors living with dementia benefit from keeping active. This helps them feel as though they are still a part of the world and can help slow down the progression of the condition.

There are many ways to encourage your loved one to stay active, both mentally and physically. Try to involve them in activities they might enjoy, such as reading, puzzles, or walks outside. If they are no longer able to participate in these activities independently, see if there is a way you can help facilitate their involvement.

Provide Social Activities for Your Parent

Dementia can also lead to increased isolation and less involvement in social activities. This can cause feelings of loneliness and depression in seniors who may feel less motivated to remain socially engaged as a result of a cognitive health condition.

Try to provide regular social activities for your parent, either through outside groups or by bringing people to visit. This will help keep them connected with the world around them and allow them to spend time with other people that they love.

Keep a List of Changes in Their Behaviors

It can be helpful to keep a list of any changes in your loved one’s behaviors. This will help you stay organized and track any progress or regression over time. During appointments, provide any new accounts of these changes to their doctor. They may recommend new forms of care to better assist your parent, such as transitioning to a memory care community or prescribing a new medication.

Some changes to watch for might include, but are not limited to:

  • Getting lost or disoriented in familiar environments
  • Difficulty recognizing names or faces of people they know
  • Struggling to maintain a simple conversation with others
  • Missing scheduled activities like appointments or medication times
  • Forgetting to bathe or dress themselves
  • Accidentally injuring themself or unintentionally leaving a stove on

Take Time to Support Yourself

Dealing with dementia in an aging parent as well as caring for them can require a great deal of physical, mental, and emotional energy. To prevent feelings of burnout, make sure that you create time for yourself to engage in activities that you enjoy. There are also a variety of in-person and online support groups for dementia caregivers and family members where you can connect with other people who are living through a similar experience to your own.

Consider a Compassionate Memory Care Community

At Shaker Place, we offer compassionate residential memory care for seniors in the Albany, NY area. We remain committed to helping your loved one maintain a high quality of life while ensuring that their physical safety and medical care needs are met consistently by a staff of highly qualified nursing professionals.

To learn more about our amenities and programs, please schedule a tour at any time or contact us online for more information.