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How To Get Help For Parent With Alzheimer’s

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5 Ways to Help a Parent with Dementia Accept Care

As the disease progresses, your parent will need ongoing and around-the-clock care.

A private nurse or caregiver of some form will become essential so make provisions for this.

Until that day comes, do the best you can to rally round as a family. Taking turns to care for your parent can lighten the load from any one individual while providing your parent with a rich and varied caring diet.

Caregiver Support Is A Phone Call Away

Talk to caring people for practical caregiving information and help finding local resources/services.

If the person you care for asks questions repeatedly, has trouble performing simple tasks, or forgets recent events, he or she may have a form of dementia.

There are several causes for dementia, so you should have the person diagnosed by a doctor.

Some dementia may be caused by factors that can be treated, such as drug interactions, severe diabetes, vitamin deficiencies, or depression. The most common kind of dementia is Alzheimer’s Disease. It is not curable.

There are many helpful resources for family caregivers coping with dementia, including:

Consider When And How You Might Dial Back On Usual Medical Care

As you may have noticed, usual medical care tends to be quite oriented towards addressing the goal of helping people live as long as possible. This is done by intervening when people are acutely ill, and by using the emergency room, hospitalization, or even intensive care, in order to minimize the chance of a person dying. It also means providing chronic medical care and preventive care, again with a key goal being to minimize mortality risk.

This kind of care may sound good to you its what most of us expect from our modern medical system. But in fact, its worth rethinking when it comes to an older person declining from dementia.

Why? Because when people are declining from dementia or if they otherwise have limited life-expectancy usual medical care becomes less likely to help them live longer, or better. It also becomes more likely to cause confusion, distress, and medical complications.

Furthermore, usual medical care can crowd out, or directly conflict, with approaches that help people with dementia maintain the best possible quality of life and function. When given the opportunity, most families of people with moderate and advanced dementia eventually decide to prioritize the goals of well being and function helping a loved one be comfortable, out of pain, and able to enjoy companionship and the small pleasures of everyday life to the best of their ability over the goal of extended lifespan whatever the cost.

Read Also: Is Nursing Home Care For Dementia Tax Deductible

Dont Neglect Your Own Needs

By always focusing so diligently on your loved ones needs throughout the progression of their dementia, its easy to fall into the trap of neglecting your own welfare. If youre not getting the physical and emotional support you need, you wont be able to provide the best level of care, and youre more likely to become overwhelmed and suffer burnout.

Plan for your own care. Visit your doctor for regular checkups and pay attention to the signs and symptoms of excessive stress. Its easy to abandon the people and activities you love when youre mired in caregiving, but you risk your health and peace of mind by doing so. Take time away from caregiving to maintain friendships, social contacts, and professional networks, and pursue the hobbies and interests that bring you joy.

Talk to someone. Talk to a trusted friend, family member, clergy member, or therapist, about what youre going through. The simple act of talking face-to-face with someone who cares can be extremely catharticand a great stress reliever.

Stay active. Regular exercise not only keeps you fit, it releases endorphins that can really boost your mood. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days. If you cant get away for that long at once, break the time up into 10-minute sessions throughout the day.

Signs Your Parent Needs To Be Tested

Pin on Aging Parents

Just because your parent might be starting to forget things every now and then doesnât mean Alzheimerâs disease or another type of dementia is the cause. However, itâs important to be on the lookout for changes that arenât a normal part of the aging process. According to the National Institute on Aging and Mayo Clinic, these are early signs of more serious memory problems:

  • Repeating questions
  • Mixing up wordsâusing the wrong word to identify something
  • Taking longer to complete familiar tasks
  • Getting lost in familiar area
  • Not being able to follow directions
  • Changes in mood or behavior
  • Confusion about time, people and places
  • Neglecting personal hygiene

Your parent should see a doctor if he or she is experiencing these problems. Itâs important for him or her to be tested to see if symptoms are due to Alzheimerâs, another type of dementia or something else entirely. Dementia-like symptoms can be caused by depression, sleep apnea, thyroid problems, vitamin deficiencies, medication side effects or excessive alcohol consumptionâall of which can be helped with treatment.

Although there is no cure for Alzheimerâs disease, an early diagnosis will allow your parent to get treatment that can lessen symptoms. Plus, it will give you and your parent more time to discuss what sort of care he or she wants and to make a plan to pay for that care.

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How You Can Handle Dementia Denial

Your parent does not have to accept that they have dementia for you to help them. Getting a diagnosis of dementia is more important for you as a caregiver to be able to best help your parent.

Alzheimers Disease International states that getting an early diagnosis of dementia will:

  • Allow you to have the time to take advantage of therapies that may enhance their quality of life and slow the progression of the disease
  • Give both you and your parent time to make decisions about financial and legal issues
  • Prepare for the changes that will come as the disease progresses

Use the following steps to help guide you and your parent through a diagnosis of dementia:

  • Collect detailed information. Educate yourself on what the symptoms of dementia are and then make a list of the signs and symptoms that you have noticed. Make note especially of any changes that you have seen over the last year or two. The Alzheimers Association recommends listing when the symptoms began and how frequently they occur. Ask your parent if you can accompany them to their next doctors appointment and let them know you want to talk to the doctor about what is normal aging.
  • Encourage your parent to keep track of changes in their communication, daily functions and memories. Let your parent know that there are often other causes for changes in memory and that seeing the doctor can allow you to rule out treatable conditions.
  • Understanding The Effects Of Dementia

    While progressive long- and short-term memory loss is the most prominent symptom of dementia, its important to understand that its just thata symptom. The cause of the cognitive decline is the degeneration of brain tissue. Because of this, dementia can also have symptoms that seem unrelated to memory.

    Some other common dementia behaviors and symptoms include:

    • personality changes
    • dangerous or impulsive behaviors
    • lack of awareness of their surroundings

    Remember that your loved one is unique and likely wont exhibit all of these symptoms.

    This list may seem overwhelming at first, but its helpful to know what to look out for as dementia progresses. If your parent begins acting harshly toward you, wont talk to you, or becomes anxious despite your reassurance, it isnt your fault.

    Read Also: What One Food Fights Dementia

    Do Not Argue With Them

    Arguing or reasoning with your Alzheimers parent does not help, and most often makes the matter worse. It is common for Alzheimers patients to become paranoid.

    If you find yourself getting drawn into arguments started by them take a step back. Breathe deeply and look at things objectively. Always be the one to break away from an argument. Do not wait for a resolution.

    Likewise, you also dont want to talk to them condescendingly. If they happen to make a mistake or act irrationally, try distracting them by offering them their favorite food.

    You can also play their favorite song. Any kind of distraction helps as long as it gets their mind off from the argument.

    Also, you might want to sidetrack the conversation subtly. Sudden changes or movements can make them defensive.

    Furthermore, your parent may not be able to discern the content of what you say but they can sense how you feel about it. Be aware of your vocal pitch and tonality. Talk to them softly and slowly. Especially if they are agitated with something.

    Adapt To The Individuals Personal Hygiene Rituals

    When Your Parent Has Memory Loss | Alzheimers Caregiver Support

    The best method of keeping your parent hygienic is to understand their preferences. When your parent with dementia refuses help, ask specific questions such as whether or not they prefer a shower to a bath. Perhaps the water is too warm or too cold. It may not seem like a big deal, but adapting some of your parents personal preferences can help them follow a hygiene routine.

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    How To Get A Parent Evaluated For Dementia

    Robin Schiltz Dementia Info

    You know that forgetfulness and memory problems come with age, but the issue with your elderly parent lately seems to be something else entirely. Theyre showing what seem to be early signs of dementia and youd love to have an accurate diagnosis. How do you convince a parent to agree to an evaluation?

    Here are some tips for persuading a parent or aging family members to get evaluated for dementia:

    • Talk to their primary care doctor and suggest this healthcare provider recommend it
    • Try an emotional appeal
    • Help them realize the problem

    In this guide, well talk in much more detail about what adult children should do if they suspect dementia in an elderly parent, whether they can test for dementia at home, and whats to be expected on a medically-issued dementia test, so keep reading!

    Aim To Be Flexible And Compassionate

    A parent with dementia may experience behavior changes that might be challenging for a person to manage. It is important that a person does not try to change their parent and fight against these changes, as this can be met with resistance.

    When faced with challenging behaviors, a person can try to:

    • accommodate these behavior changes
    • remain patient and compassionate
    • understand that behaviors may have a purpose and indicate a need that is not being met
    • understand that behaviors may have a trigger, such as a certain time of day or a change in their parents environment
    • be flexible and understand that strategies that work today may need to be different tomorrow

    A person may wish to contact a doctor if their parent is acting differently or aggressively, as this may suggest they are in pain, having a reaction to medications, or experiencing discomfort.

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    Document And Share Dementia Behaviors With A Doctor

    If you think that your loved one has dementia, keep a record of the symptoms. Track signs of dementia using your phone or a journal. Its important to share specific examples with a doctor.

    If youre worried about upsetting a loved one, submit your observations to their physician privately in writing. Keep in mind that HIPAA authorization is not needed for you to share concerns about your parent with their health professional. However, their doctor wont be able to share a medical diagnosis with you without HIPAA authorization from your parent.

    Include details about:

    • When you first noticed dementia behavior
    • Specific dementia symptoms your parents show
    • How often they struggle and when it happens
    • Changes in their normal routine or behavior

    What Questions Are Asked In A Dementia Test

    Dementia &  Difficult Behaviors: Help for the Caregiver of Aging Parents ...

    More than likely, the neurological and/or cognitive component of a seniors dementia test will include the Mini-Mental State Exam or perhaps the SLUMS test.

    These are quick tests that can be administered by a doctor, nurse, or neurologist. The MMSE test has 30 questions in all and should take about 10 minutes to complete if someone has normal cognitive function.

    • What day of the week is today?
    • What town, county, and state are you in?
    • What is the name of this building?

    In addition, the patient will be given a memory test. Theyre asked to remember items or words in random order and then recite them back later in the test.

    They may also be requested to spell certain words backwards , recite certain words with perfect pronunciation, and replicate a drawing such as a clock .

    If a patient scores 0 through 9 on the MMSE, then they likely have serious cognitive impairment. For scores between 10 and 20, then moderate cognitive impairment is likely.

    Those who score 21 to 24 have mild cognitive impairment while those who score over 24 are likely fine.

    However, cognitive impairment is not necessarily dementia. That is why the MMSE and tests like it cannot confirm the presence of dementia. The tests simply indicate that dementia could be likely.

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    Palliative Or Hospice Care

    In the late stages of Alzheimer’s, your loved one might benefit from palliative or hospice care. Palliative care is supportive care focused on comfort, while hospice care is also focused on comfort but includes a decision not to pursue aggressive care or treatment. Often, Medicare programs provide some coverage for both palliative and hospice care.

    Repeat Themselves A Lot

    How often does your parent say the same thing or tell the same story over and over? They could be repeating themselves because they dont remember what theyre saying. Dad did this a lot and its what made me suspect he had early dementia.

    As we mentioned before, a medical evaluation is your confirmation as to whether your senior parent has dementia. If you suspect they may have the condition, then schedule an evaluation immediately. An early diagnosis of dementia can help them maintain a higher quality of life for longer.

    Read Also: How Many People Die From Alzheimer’s Each Year

    Alzheimers & Dementia Care Offered At Terra Vista

    It can be difficult to provide the proper care for a loved one with dementia on your own. The staff at our Alzheimers care facility are well trained in what to do when an individual with dementia refuses care. Through a resident-centered approach, we can deliver your loved one personalized care. We accomplish this by asking about your loved ones personal preferences and what their life was like before having dementia. From what they like to eat to what they did for a living, each question helps us develop a customized plan for your parent. We encourage you to take a tour of our facility or head to our website. If you have any questions about the accommodations and Alzheimers care programs at our dementia care facility, give our staff a call at 534-0886. See if Terra Vista can be the new place that your loved one calls home.

    Counseling From A Mental Health Or Social Work Professional

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    Mental health or social work professionals help you understand your feelings, such as anger, sadness, or feeling out of control and overwhelmed, and help you deal with any stress you may be feeling. They also help develop plans for unexpected or sudden events.

    What to know about costs:

    • Professional mental health counselors charge by the hour. There may be big differences in the rates you would be charged from one counselor to another.
    • Some insurance companies will cover some of these costs.
    • Medicare or Medicaid may cover some of these costs.
    • You must pay all costs not covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or insurance.

    How to find them:

    • It’s a good idea to ask your health insurance staff which counselors and services, if any, your insurance plan covers. Then check with your doctor, local family service agencies, and community mental health agencies for referrals to counselors.

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    Dementia Books On Prescription

    Reading Well Books on Prescription for dementia offers support for people diagnosed with dementia, their relatives and carers, or for people who would just like to find out more about the condition.

    GPs and other health professionals can recommend titles from a list of 37 books on dementia. The books are available for anyone to borrow free from their local library.

    Read more about the Reading Well Books on Prescription for dementia.

    Physical Signs Of Dementia In Elderly Relatives

    What do you do if you suspect that someone in your family has dementia, but your answers to the behaviors above seem to fall in the middle? While it may be hard to distinguish between dementia symptoms and ordinary aging , dementia typically comes with cumulative cognitive decline.

    In addition to the eight major dementia symptoms above, many seniors will exhibit physical signs of this cognitive decline. There are several additional warning behaviors to look for:

    If, after cataloguing their symptoms, you suspect your loved one has dementia, there are a few proactive steps you can take. Read on for tips on tracking symptoms and seeking support from medical professionals.

    Recommended Reading: How To Talk To A Parent With Dementia

    Ways To Treat Depression & Anxiety In Patients With Dementia

    Among the effects dementia has on a person, depression and anxiety are some of the most prevalent. If you notice your loved one is feeling isolated or sad, finding them the proper treatment or care can help reduce these effects. Here are some ways to treat depression and anxiety felt by patients with dementia.


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