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How To Handle A Parent With Dementia

Tip #: Monitor Physical Changes

Dealing with an aging parent with memory loss or dementia

A clear sign of dementia is changed mental function. However, as dementia progresses, it can affect a persons physical condition as well. Youll want to monitor your parents motor function and ability to:

  • Dress or bathe
  • Talk or form thoughts
  • Perform simple household chores

Any change in a physical condition will result in an increased level of care. It may also signal a need for more advanced medical supervision.

What To Do If Your Parent With Dementia Is In Denial: 14 Tips

Dementia is a debilitating and highly variable disease. The progressive nature of dementia puts enormous pressure on families to ensure that their loved ones are safe and cared for.

As dementia can be so unpredictable, it helps to understand and prepare for some of the symptoms that your parent may end up having. Start by educating yourself about symptoms, support resources, and the possible progression of the disease.

Jump ahead to these sections:

One of these symptoms is a denial of dementia, which is called anosognosia. The term anosognosia refers to impaired insight or unawareness that the person has dementia and the deficits associated with the disease.

On a practical level, the condition of anosognosia can be very challenging for families to cope with daily. Your parent may be angry, refuse safety recommendations, or even deny that they need daily help. There is no one size fits all solution to this frustrating problem, but we have some tips listed below to help you cope.

How To Deal With Dementia In A Parent Who Refuses Help

Every caregiving situation involving dementia will have its challenges, as both the family caregiver and individual with dementia are adapting to new norms. When a loved one with dementia refuses care, it can add a whole new layer of complexity to the situation.

Building trust is the most important part of the whole care process. When your parent or family member with dementia trusts you, theyll be more willing to listen and receive help.

Here are some steps you can take to build trust and move things forward when a dementia patient refuses to go into care or accept help.

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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.

Legal Issues: Caring For Parents With Dementia

How to Deal with Dementia in a Parent: Caregiving &  Coping Tips for ...

Created by FindLaw’s team of legal writers and editors| Last updated May 17, 2021

Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other disorders that cause dementia have become more common among aging adults. While any form of memory loss is emotionally devastating for everyone involved, dementia can present extraordinary challenges for older adults and their families when drafting a will, making health care decisions, and taking care of other legal and financial matters.

Moreover, it is often the children of dementia-affected adults who end up making decisions on their behalf. But it is important for family members to understand the legal and financial implications of their actions.

The following factors should be considered when assessing your loved one’s mental capacity for making important legal, financial, and health-related decisions.

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What Are Some Other Typical Dementia Behaviors

In addition to aggression, confusion, sleep problems and wandering, symptoms of dementia can also include delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, depression, apathy and sexual inappropriateness. And, behavioral dementia symptoms tend to occur more frequently as the dementia progresses.

Up to 90% of patients have one or more of these symptoms during the course of their disease, studies show. It is important to discuss all dementia symptoms with your loved ones physician to rule out or treat any medical conditions that could be causing the behavior.

Planning For The Future: Tips For Caregivers

Making health care decisions for someone who is no longer able to do so can be overwhelming. Thats why it is important to plan health care directives in advance. To help plan for the future, you can:

  • Start discussions early with your loved one so they can be involved in the decision-making process.
  • Get permission in advance to talk to the doctor or lawyer of the person youre caring for, as needed. There may be questions about care, a bill, or a health insurance claim. Without consent, you may not be able to get needed information.
  • Consider legal and financial matters, options for in-home care, long-term care, and funeral and burial arrangements.

Learning about your loved ones disease will help you know what to expect as the dementia progresses and what you can do.

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Do Not Get Angry Or Upset

When looking after persons with dementia, practicing self-control is of utter importance. Learn how to breathe in and just relax without taking things personally or getting angry and upset. Remember that dementia patients do not act the way they do out of their own accord. It is the illness that makes them behave the way they do.

Top Tips For Dealing With A Parent Who Denies Dementia Symptoms

How To Cope With A Parent With Dementia
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  • Top Tips for Dealing With a Parent Who Denies Dementia Symptoms

  • According to the World Health Organization, there are over 50 million people living with dementia. It is the leading cause of a loss of independence in seniors and one of the hardest diseases to accept.

    So what do you do when your aging parent refuses to admit there is a problem?

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    Make Use Of Music Therapy

    Listening to songs or music is therapeutic to parents with Alzheimers and dementia. Play their favorite music to help calm them down and recall happy memories. This is according to research from the Alzheimers Association when we listen to music, it releases dopamine in our brain that triggers good mood. It also improves our memory functions and encourages social interaction more.

    Hc: Any Tips About How To Handle Being Witness To The Challenges Facing Your Parent

    Guimarey: Be patient. Hearing the same story 50 times is very trying. I will say that before we knew the diagnosis we were like, its the same story over and over again. Knowing theres a diagnosis, we all felt this feeling of oh, now that makes sense. Once you know whats going on, it changes your mindset.

    Its also hard to separate the parent you had from the parent you have now. For example, my mom was a teacher. She read all the time and she was well-educated and worldly. Now, her vocabulary is so limited. Well ask her, what kind of flowers would you like to plant? and shell say, the pretty kind. Trying to remember the good times really helps. You cant say do you remember this or that as they will say no and you will drive yourself crazy. Know this is the new chapter in their lives and try to be okay with it.

    Ballinger: My mom often thought I was her cousin Rosemary and lots of friends and family members thought it was wrong for me to talk to my mom as if I was Rosemary. But I believe it was easier that way. We even had some laughs together and that was better than saying, Mom, Im not Rosemary, or Mom were not in church 40 years ago. That would get us nowhere.

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    Do Try To Be Pleasant

    Caregivers are also humans who are prone to emotions like anger, stress, impatience, and irritation. Even when one goes through caregiver burnout, it is best that the patient does not get wind of it. It is better to step out of the room and try some breathing exercises to calm down before going back to deal with the dementia patient. Where possible, shelve the bad feelings and try and deal with them later. Dementia patients deal with a lot and they do not need more on their plate if they are to lead fulfilling and happy lives.

    Caregiving In The Early Stages Of Alzheimers Or Dementia

    How to Handle Dementia Hallucinations &  Delusions in Elderly Parents

    In the early stages of Alzheimers disease or another type of dementia, your loved one may not need much caregiving assistance. Rather, your role initially may be to help them come to terms with their diagnosis, plan for the future, and stay as active, healthy, and engaged as possible.

    Accept the diagnosis. Accepting a dementia diagnosis can be just as difficult for family members as it for the patient. Allow yourself and your loved one time to process the news, transition to the new situation, and grieve your losses. But dont let denial prevent you from seeking early intervention.

    Deal with conflicting emotions. Feelings of anger, frustration, disbelief, grief, denial, and fear are common in the early stages of Alzheimers or dementiafor both the patient and you, the caregiver. Let your loved one express what theyre feeling and encourage them to continue pursuing activities that add meaning and purpose to their life. To deal with your own fears, doubts, and sadness, find others you can confide in.

    Make use of available resources. There are a wealth of community and online resources to help you provide effective care on this journey. Start by finding the Alzheimers Association in your country . These organizations offer practical support, helplines, advice, and training for caregivers and their families. They can also put you in touch with local support groups.

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    The Many Benefits Of Pursuing A Dementia Diagnosis

    For your mother, an assessment for cognitive changes means shell be checked for other health problems that might cause personality or thinking changes. After all, its possible that the problems youre observing are not due to dementia.

    Its also common for dementia to be exacerbated by additional problems like electrolyte imbalances, medication side-effects, untreated pain, or even constipation which can be treated, even though a disease such as Alzheimers cant be cured. So you really want at least a preliminary clinical dementia evaluation to be completed.

    If your mother ultimately is deemed to have dementia, you want that to be in her medical chart. Thats because this diagnosis has implications for how to manage the care of any other health problems she has.

    A dementia diagnosis will also make it easier for you to get help as a family caregiver. Difficult behaviors are often managed with medications, but its true that these generally increase fall risk, so they should be avoided. If you are concerned about her behavior, this article will explain the pros and cons of the available medication options: 5 Types of Medication Used to Treat Difficult Dementia Behaviors.

    Last but not least, a dementia diagnosis often helps a family focus on planning for further declines in decision-making and independence. This is obviously not easy, but trust me, things tend to go better later if families have done some planning earlier.

    Tip #: Prepare And Research

    The first thing youll want to do is prepare yourself and do some research.

    Take time to read articles, books, or talk with others around you who might be caring for a parent with dementia. You might also be able to find online videos or classes to help with the preparation.

    Youll also want to prepare yourself emotionally and mentally. Write out some memories of your loved one. Take some time to think about who they were and some of the things that they enjoyed. These can help you remember who your loved one is if their personality starts to change.

    If possible, plan and prepare ahead of time. Many preliminary resources exist to help you start the journey of caring for your loved one with dementia well.

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    Tips For Having The Talk With A Parent About Dementia Symptoms

    Adult children commonly have a hard time broaching the subject of dementia with a loved one. Ruth Drew, Director of Family and Information Services at the Alzheimers Association, says, I think people are worried about hurting a family relationship or upsetting people that they care about.

    Drew also says that broaching the topic early helps everyone. When you know what youre dealing with upfront, then you can plan, she adds. The person can have a voice in what happens next.

    If your loved one is exhibiting dementia symptoms, it is crucial to have the talk with him or her as soon as possible.

    Here are six tips for talking with someone you love about dementia:

    Give One Instruction At A Time

    Dealing With A Parent With Dementia – Louis Theroux: Extreme Love – Dementia – BBC

    Granted, this is sometimes easier said than done when life gets busy and youre in a rush!

    Still, giving one instruction at a time can make communication much easier.

    Multi-tasking is hard enough for adults without cognitive impairments, so you can imagine what it might be like for those living with dementia.

    It may take your parent a while to get their words out, so hold back from asking further questions before theyre able to answer.

    Repeating the question or rephrasing it slightly differently can help move the conversation along.

    Try to give your loved one at least 20-30 seconds to respond.

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    Kind Calming Ways To Respond To I Want To Go Home

    These suggestions will put you on the right track, but its a good idea to get creative and come up with responses that are tailored for your older adults history, personality, and preferences.

    1. Reassure and comfort to validate their needsSometimes saying I want to go home is how your older adult tells you theyre tense, anxious, scared, or in need of extra comfort.

    Approach your older adult with a calm, soothing, and relaxed manner. If you remain calm, it often helps them calm down too.

    If they like hugs, this is a good time for one. Others may prefer gentle touching or stroking on their arm or shoulder or simply having you sit with them.

    Another way of giving extra comfort and reassurance is to give them a soothing blanket, therapy doll, or stuffed animal.

    2. Avoid reasoning and explanationsTrying to use reason and logic isnt recommended when someone has a brain disease. It will only make them more insistent, agitated, and upset.

    Dont try to explain that theyre in their own home, assisted living is now their home, or they moved in with you 3 years ago.

    They wont be able to process that information and will feel like youre not listening, you dont care, or that youre stopping them from doing something thats important to them.

    3. Validate, redirect, and distractBeing able to redirect and distract is an effective dementia care technique. Its a skill that improves with practice, so dont feel discouraged if the first few attempts dont work perfectly.

    Enlist The Help Of A Physician

    You cant totally hide a dementia diagnosis from your parent or encourage their denial. A process of acceptance requires respect, empowerment, and support.

    Physicians who work with people who have dementia are accustomed to having these conversations. Their authority can be a big help, particularly if your parent needs to start a new treatment or agree to caregiving.

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    A Parent With Dementia Needs Your Help

    Dealing with the emotions of a parent with dementia who refuses help can be confusing and sad. This is the person that raised you and guided you for most of your life. Now, it can feel like the roles are reversed. You are in the position of authority with the responsibility of making decisions to keep your parent safe and happy.

    Dealing with a parent who has dementia is not something any of us expect to have to do, and it can be heartwrenching to see the vulnerability of a parent. On top of all that, you may feel resentment or anger. Acknowledge these feelings as normal and talk with someone about it if you think it will help. With planning and patience, it is possible to help your parent accept the care they need.

  • What is Dementia?The Alzheimers Association.
  • Categories:

    Be Patient Ask Questions And Listen Well

    How to Help and Support a Parent with Dementia

    When you first approach your loved one and they refuse help, it can be beneficial to do three things:

  • Be patient
  • Ask questions
  • Listen well
  • We mentioned earlier that the idea of receiving assistance can bring up strong emotions and fears in your loved one. Instead of reciprocating with frustration or going behind their back to find a solution yourself, kindly ask them to explain why they dont want help, or what emotion theyre feeling and why.

    For example, lets say that you realize that your loved one with dementia probably shouldnt operate a vehicle on their own anymore. Rather than demanding they give you the keys or submitting a form to the local driving authorities to get their license revoked, you could ask:

    • How do you feel when youre driving?
    • Have you been in any accidents recently? How did that make you feel?
    • Are there times during the day that you dont like to drive?
    • I saw a dent on the front bumper. Did something happen to you?

    You can use this same technique with any situation or circumstance where a loved one rejects help, like an elderly parent who refuses medical treatment.

    There may come a time when you need to take more serious action. But initially, try to engage your loved one relationally and help them see that you simply care about them.

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