A Blog For Those Affected By Environmental And Invisible Illnesses Written By Fellow Survivors
Aging Parent with Dementia - How to Provide Proper Care
Coping with aging parents can be challenging, particularly if your parent is suffering with dementia. Both you and they will be upset by a diagnosis and will need to develop strategies for coping with their changing behaviour.
Here are a few tips on how to provide proper care for your aging parent with dementia:
Make Practical Changes
A parent with dementia may struggle to do things that they did previously. You can help them to adapt to their new ability level. Leave notes and prompts around the house to make daily tasks that bit easier. Make changes around the home to improve safety. When it comes to completing tasks, break them down into more manageable steps. And perhaps focus on the process rather than the completion of a task. This makes things less distressing for your parent when things don’t go to plan.
Adapt Your Speech
Communication is a common problem. If your parent finds verbal communication more difficult now, speak more slowly and use simple language. You could also try asking closed questions that prompt a “yes” or “no” answer. This makes it easier for your parent to respond. Telling rather than asking in the course of conversation can also help. “We’re going to go to the doctor’s now” rather than “Shall we go to the doctor’s now?” can make communication more straight forward.
Try to See Things From Your Parent’s Perspective
A parent with dementia may behave in ways that you perceive as incomprehensible. They may become easily agitated, suspicious of people around them or ask the same question over and again. Try to look more deeply into these behaviours. They can sometimes occur because your parent’s needs aren’t being met – could they be hungry or thirsty? – or because they are frustrated at not being able to communicate. Seeing things from your parent’s perspective and trying to understand how they feel at their loss of capacity will help you to be a better carer.
Promote Independence as Well as Providing Care
This is easier said than done. Your parent’s mental capacity is likely to change little by little. Assessing exactly what they are capable of and what is beyond them is difficult, especially as this may alter from day to day. However, encouraging your parent to take care of themselves, make their own decisions and maintain their independence wherever possible is important. It will contribute to their self-esteem and a sense of control over their own lives.
Seek Out Support
Providing all care for your parent yourself is difficult. Sometimes it’s impossible. Don’t be afraid to seek out support. This could take the form of carer support groups, a charitable organisation offering carer respite opportunities, or a paid home carer who can relieve the pressure for shorter or longer periods of time. If you are looking into alternative care options, seek out a qualified aged care worker who will understand all of your parent’s requirements.
Take Care of Yourself
If you’re providing full time care for your parent, you need to take some time out to look after yourself too. Ask a trusted friend or family member to take over care duties for an afternoon. Then spend some time on yourself – playing sport, catching up with friends or enjoying a favourite hobby. A happy and well rested carer can provide much better care for their parent.
Providing proper care for a parent with dementia is tough. Some days you’ll be able to provide better care than others. Try to take one day at a time and enjoy the good moments you spend together. By providing a stable and caring environment for your parent, you’re helping them more than they can express.