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How To Deal With Dementia in a Parent?

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A cartoon rendition of a senior couple with a thought bubble appearing from the head of the man with scribbled lines symbolizing dementia and confusion

Our parents have spent so much of their lives taking care of us. When it becomes our turn to look after them, we want to do our best. But this sentiment can be met with several challenges as they age, especially if they begin to develop signs of dementia.

It can be difficult to deal with a parent with dementia, and taking care of their needs may require a support system. Read on to learn about the signs of dementia, how to speak to someone with dementia, and when it might be time to seek support with a memory care partner.

Knowing the Signs of Dementia

If you notice your parent is forgetting easy tasks, names, places, or simple words, they may be experiencing dementia. Other indications of dementia include impaired problem solving and other mental demands that impede their daily life.

Your parent or loved one might be experiencing dementia if they exhibit any of these key signs:

  • Short-term memory problems
  • Frequently losing their purse or wallet
  • Forgetting to pay bills on time
  • Difficulties planning or preparing meals
  • Forgetting appointments
  • Traveling or wandering away from home by accident

How to Talk to Someone Who Has Dementia

It is easy for us to get worked up when someone doesn’t remember important details. Coming to terms with your parent’s condition can take some time. 

Take a deep breath, and remember that this forgetfulness isn’t intentional. It’s normal to feel emotional about the change in your parent’s behavior, but it isn’t their fault. Take your time, be patient, and try to keep a positive tone.

Have a Conversation

Symptoms of dementia can vary from person to person, so if you suspect your parent is experiencing cognitive difficulty, it is best to have them assessed by their doctor.

Being open and honest with your parent can help facilitate a conversation about your concerns. It is entirely possible they don’t realize that they are exhibiting symptoms of dementia.

This can be a very difficult conversation to have. Be soft and gentle, and understand that it could upset them. It may help you to discuss the issue with other close friends or family members first to see if they have noticed a change in your parent’s behavior.

The Alzheimer’s Association offers helpful tips on how to help aging adults come to terms with early-stage dementia:

  • Make sure your parent has time to feel sad about how their identity might be changing
  • Ensure they know how much they still mean to you, and highlight some of the roles and responsibilities they still have that are significant to who they are (grandfather, grandmother, mother, father, daughter, etc.)
  • Encourage them to speak with someone they trust, like a friend, minister, or a counselor to help them work through their emotions
A middle-aged daughter conversing on the couch with her senior mother about the possibility of moving into a memory care community

Dealing With a Parent With Dementia and Using Senior Living for Support

Moving from the comfort of their home can be a difficult decision for any aging adult. You probably wouldn’t want to move out of your home if someone told you to, either. If you can, sit down and discuss the options with them. 

But before you do this, consider the viable and practical options available to them.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • Is it safe for your parent to continue living at home?
  • Are there additional costs associated with them staying in their home?
  • Are you comfortable with having them move in with you? 
  • Can you take on the added responsibilities of caring for them? 
  • Would they be happier in a senior living community?

Having your own answers to these questions can help you set your own expectations of the best way to move forward. 

The sooner you can appropriately have a conversation about what their future holds, the more time you will have to prepare. If you wait, their health could decline, and you may have to make decisions without their support.

If Your Parent is Moving to a Senior Living Community

If you have decided to pursue a search for a senior living community, you can get started by looking together with your parent. You likely want them to be as happy and as comfortable as possible in their new home.

This can be an exciting undertaking, depending on how you both feel about it. You can try to make it fun for them by including them in the conversation and viewing communities together. Many senior living communities invite you to have a look around, experience the activities and amenities, and meet people who live and work there.

Finding Your Own Path

How you and your parent deal with their dementia is up to you. You might try your hardest to keep a positive tone, but not everyone is receptive to their changing abilities. Support is available to help you navigate through this difficult time. If you have any questions, you can get in touch with the Ramsay Fox Trail team. We will be happy to lend our guidance.

Ryan Donahue

Written by Ryan Donahue, Regional Vice President

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