Providing care to an aging parent is one difficult task, especially when they have dementia. Your parents may suffer from unpredictable behavioral and cognitive changes if they have dementia, they may even resist treatment or any kind of support given to them. The first thing to know about caregiving is that you should always understand the disease in order to know how to deal with it. Alzheimer’s is one of the most popular diseases that represent very pronounced stages of dementia. It’s also a progressive disease that shows more severe symptoms over time. That’s why taking care of an aging parent is very difficult at first. Here’s how you can help your parents if they suffer from dementia.
Research the Topic
Most of us don’t have that natural intuition to help the elderly when they’re suffering from mental difficulties. With aging parents, intuition would usually lead us to the wrong decisions. For example, some seniors suffer from chewing and swallowing difficulties, in this case, it would be wrong to force them to eat. That’s why it’s essential that you look up the disease you’re dealing with and understand its symptoms before providing care to either one of your parents. You may have to deal with severe memory issues sometimes, learn that it’s a normal stage of their mental condition and that you need to be there for them no matter what. Dementia symptoms are not constant and behavioral changes can be unpredictable so every case is different according to the patient’s personality.
Make Their Home A Safer Place
You may need to make a few changes around your parents’ homes in order to reduce their risks of falling as they transition from the mild stage of dementia to the moderate stage. Some patience and personal emergency response system go a long way in helping you add an extra safety layer to the comfort of your loved ones’ homes. You will notice that some parts of their home pose potential threats, such as the basement, backyard, workshop, or garage. There are also some inside supplies, chemicals, and cleaning tools that need to be stored away to prevent potential harm to your parents. Pay attention to the kitchen, make sure they don’t use the stove when you’re not around. To help with this problem, you can either take off the knobs so that only you can use them, or install concealed gas valves.
Learn to Cope With Caregiver Stress
It’s normal to experience caregiver stress when you’re looking after a parent in the severe or moderate stages of dementia. You may even experience grief in some cases as their condition deteriorates. One of the most comforting thing is to do online therapy. Expert caregivers at Arcare Aged Care will always be helpful in sharing coping techniques that reduce the stress of looking after a loved one. You’ll also be recommended to schedule special break times for yourself. You’ll be handling a lot of demands and it will be of extreme importance to look after yourself as well in the process.
Make Time for Regular Family Gatherings
It’s healthy to gather the family regularly and sit down to talk about how the caregiving situation is impacting everyone involved. You’ll need to communicate difficulties and stress points so that you can start working on finding a resolution for each one. You may even need to check with a therapist to help you deal with grievances. The purpose of your family meetings can be to discuss who will participate in the caregiving responsibility or to suggest different coping techniques that everyone can benefit from. Just make sure to start a meeting’s agenda to get your ideas and thoughts sorted, and to stick to facts in your discussions rather than only communicating personal opinions.
Educate Your Children and Family About Caregiving
Explaining what dementia is and how to deal with it to younger children in the family is very important. Children are naturally intuitive and it wouldn’t be difficult for them to tell when their uncle, aunt, or grandparent are experiencing behavioral or mental challenges or changes. So instead of hiding the truth from them, engage them in the caregiving process and assign them simple chores that can help them become closer to the seniors in the family. It will be a lot less stressful when the situation is brought up, discussed, and resolved out in the open. It will also be recommended to plan ahead of introducing children to a senior with dementia, let them know how they can play along if the grandparent starts saying things that don’t make sense.
Looking after aging parents can be one of the most difficult tasks you’ll ever have to do. The process requires a lot of patience and planning to deal with unpredictable behavioral changes. Caregiving is all about researching and understanding the disease you’re dealing with so that you can learn better coping techniques. However, most dementia patients would rather be stubborn and resist support, so handling the situation properly takes a long time and a lot of persistence.