What to Do if You Think Your Parent Has Dementia
Dementia affects more than 50 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. In 2019, 45 million people had it. These figures show that dementia is a problem that will not go away soon. We have to find ways of dealing with it. We can start by taking care of the people who are at the highest risk of developing it. Did you know that three percent of individuals aged between 65 and 74 have this illness? At the same time, 50% of people above 85 years of age have it. You can now see that a person’s chance of developing dementia increases with it. Consequently, we have to take care of our parents, especially when they exhibit signs associated with the early stages of this illness. Here is what to do if you think your parents have dementia.
Develop Predictable Schedules and Routines
Focus on physical and therapeutic routines. Physical routines include morning walks, while therapeutic routines can be comprised of listening to soothing music or solving puzzles. Daily routines such as eating breakfast at a certain time, brushing one’s teeth, and then setting the table every day are also important. Remember, dementia will often lead to a loss of short-term memory first. Consequently, the routines that you will inculcate in your parents today will stay with him until the later stages of this illness. That will happen because routines developed over a time become part of your long-term, not short-term, memory. Other benefits of predictable routines for your parents include reduced levels of anxiety and a sense of independence. Caretakers also have an easier time taking care of people with dementia when they have a schedule that they follow religiously.
Take Care of Yourself Financially, Emotionally and Physically
Dementia takes a severe toll on your parents. However, it will affect you as well. For example, you will see your loved one lose the precious memories that they had of you. You will also feel the pressure of applying physical and financial effort into the care of a person suffering from dementia. In some cases, you can risk falling into depression unless you take care of yourself. You have to start doing that now before the disease in your parent progresses. Begin by joining support groups for people who are caring for relatives or friends who have dementia. Share your experiences with them and get ideas from them as well. You also need to prepare yourself financially. Make sure that you have an adequate level of savings to take care of another dependent. Moreover, start planning your schedule for significant changes as time progresses. For example, make room for helping your parent with his or her daily routines.
Avoid Confrontations with Your Parent
Communication skills for people living with dementia deteriorate over time. They cannot express what they need or feel as well as they did in the past. Consequently, frustration sets in leading to frequent outbursts of anger. Do not take it personally. At the same time, caregivers experience a diverse mix of issues. For example, maybe caring for a person with dementia is becoming problematic for them. That is especially true when trying to reconcile such care with work and social schedules. Consequently, they may lash out at their parent out of frustration when their parent cannot understand something or fails to follow a particular instruction. Stop these confrontations as soon as you think your parent has dementia. Do not fight over who is right or wrong with them. Do not push them to accept that they said something when they believe that they did not say it. Do not become angry with them when they forget about something you have just told them. It could be memory loss setting in as the disease that they are experiencing worsens.
Ensure That Your Parent Eats a Nutritious Diet
People who have dementia will have trouble when it comes to carrying out simple processes such as eating and drinking. Consequently, they will experience a significant level of weight loss if you do not help them maintain a nutritious diet. Start as early as possible and make it routine so that they become used to certain foods at particular times. Remember, some things that we love are bad for people with dementia. They include sugary drinks, alcohol, refined carbs, and processed foods among others. Interestingly, people suffering from dementia often have diminished senses in their taste buds. Consequently, their appetite for foods with many flavors increases significantly. Do not allow your parent to consume more and more of these foods. Instead, encourage them to consume nutritious foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products.
Ask Your Parent to Examine and Update All Legal Documents
People with dementia have accumulated assets over their lifetime. The management and distribution of these assets become problematic in most families as the condition of the person who owns the assets deteriorates. Avoiding this kind of conflict is critical for the sake of unity in the family. More importantly, avoiding it ensures that everyone focuses on the well-being of your parent, instead of the assets that he or she holds. You can start by asking your parent to examine and update their financial and legal documents. One of the most important ones would be his well. You can also start discussions on matters such as the Power of Attorney in case your parent’s condition deteriorates quickly. Legally, they can update these documents in the future even when the disease is at an advanced stage. However, doing it today when they have full control of all of their mental faculties is the best way forward. Contestations are likely to arise in the future if you wait until then to have him update his documents.
Talk To Professionals Who Care For People Living With Dementia
Unfortunately, many people underestimate the toll that taking care of a parent with dementia will have on their lives. They believe that they will look after their parents, the same way their parents looked after them when they were helpless. That is not the case. You need to contact professionals who care for people living with dementia as soon as possible. They will help you when stress seems to be overwhelming you. For example, they will provide 24-hour care allowing you to work so that you can procure the therapies, medication, and food that your parent need. They will help you avoid scenarios where you are angry with your dad or mom for failing to do a simple task. They will counsel you when you experience the pain of your parent losing their memory of who you are. Consequently, you need to contact professional caregivers as well as counsellors for you and your family members.
Encourage Your Parent to go For a Full Medical Check-Up
Dementia is a complex illness whose cause remains unknown. The term itself refers to a group of symptoms that impact a person’s memory negatively. In some cases, one might confuse it for another condition including head trauma, delirium, depression, hormonal disruption, and kidney diseases. Encourage your parent to go for a full medical check-up so that you can ascertain whether what you think your parent has is what they have. This check-up is also important if your parent has this illness. More specifically, it will determine which stage of dementia that your parent is experiencing. Remember, dementia has seven stages according to most medical experts. Determining which one your parent is in would help you plan for his care. For example, you can hire a home care expert immediately if he is at an advanced stage of the disease.
Other Things That You Can Do
Keep an updated list of the medications that your parent is taking. Ensure that his medical records are available for perusal by health professionals when necessary. Remember, dementia research is ongoing. Those records would help scientists determine your parent’s suitability for enlistment into specific trials or his participation in emerging therapies. You also need to change the setup of your home so that you can make it friendly to people living with dementia. For example, remove as many objects and bumps on your floor as possible. Remember, people with dementia have a problem with spatial relationships. Therefore, falls will be common if your floor has too many obstacles. You also need to keep hazardous material away as they might use it for something else having forgotten how dangerous the material is. Install easy to read clocks, keep noise levels down, and ensure that the lighting is adequate and as natural as possible.
Dementia is a serious illness that will have a profound impact on your parent, siblings, and the rest of your family members. You need to prepare for it as much as it is possible to do so. Follow the tips above on what to do if you think your parent has dementia. Start with encouraging him or her to go for a medical check-up. Implement ideas such as a nutritious diet and a regular physical workout regime whether has dementia or not. Hope for the best, but prepare yourself and the rest of the family for changes in your lives if it happens to be dementia. Most importantly, do not give up on your loved one. Many people live with this illness, and many families have learned to cope with its impact on them. You can be one of those families as well.