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HomeHealthHow To Talk To A Parent With Dementia

How To Talk To A Parent With Dementia

Expert Advice Does Help

How to Talk to a Parent With Dementia

Some seniors are so stubborn they will not believe anything you say. It is not until a professional doctor tells them the same thing you have said before, that they would consider it.

Experts come in all forms, from doctors, social workers, priests, and nurses. It is their credibility that can convince an elderly parent to accept assisted living or help from a caregiver. Experts can explain the benefits of receiving support and different treatments. Seek out and use these professionals as they can quickly change the mood of your loved one.

Merely speaking to an expert or professional can give a loved one the confidence in a correct answer. During this process, it is essential to utilize every tool and strategy you can.

What Are Some Tricky Situations You May Encounter

  • In situations of aggression

  • Examples of aggressive speech or actions such asWhy arent you letting me eat?! or I want to go home now! or I cant find my purse! often spark aggressive behaviors among dementia patients. As mentioned by an article by a Place for Mom, People with dementia are more apt to hit, kick or bite in response to feeling helpless and afraid. It is important to note that aggression is usually sparked because of fear and feelings of desperation and exasperation. For example, they may not remember that they have eaten 30 minutes ago. So it may come as confusing and restricting for them when you refuse to give them food.

    In order to handle such situations more effectively, the solution is to understand why certain actions provoke your parents or place them in uncomfortable situations that can cause distress and oppositional behaviors. For example, some patients do not like to be touched. Actions like patting their backs to sooth them down will only serve to agitate them even further. Therefore, knowing your parents and their level of comfort with certain actions can prevent situations that provoke aggression.

  • In situations of confusion

  • It is common among patients with dementia to be confused about their surroundings at different and random points of time. Examples of what they will say are: This is not my husband! or Where is my home?.

    Dont Avoid The Discussion

    A survey of approximately 1,000 adults revealed that 30 percent of them refused to talk to a relative who showed signs of dementia. Most worried about offending the person and ruining their relationship with them. Many said they would wait until the symptoms worsened!

    However, delaying or avoiding the discussion merely makes it far more difficult in the future. Yes, it is a hard thing to do and can risk your relationship with your parent or loved one, but it is an act of love.

    If you need assistance caring for a senior with dementia, Bethesda is here to help. Our Memory Care neighborhoods in the St. Louis area provide support to caregivers and families of seniors. Contact us or schedule a tour to learn more.

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    Summary How To Talk To A Parent With Dementia

    Caring for a parent with dementia may be hard at times. Implementing different approaches can make dementia communication a little easier. Keeping a calm, comfortable environment and minimizing distractions will help your parent keep focus. Talking slowly in simple terms will help your parent process what is being said. It is a good idea not to focus or argue about facts when communicating with dementia patients but instead focus on their feelings and what they are trying to convey. Understanding their dementia and its progression will help you separate the disease from your parent. Although challenging at times, remember it is dementia creating a cognitive decline affecting their memory, mood, and behavior.

    Repetitive Speech Or Actions

    How to talk to a parent with dementia: 8 tips to improve ...

    People with dementia will often repeat a word, statement, question, or activity over and over. While this type of behavior is usually harmless for the person with dementia, it can be annoying and stressful to caregivers. Sometimes the behavior is triggered by anxiety, boredom, fear, or environmental factors.

    • Provide plenty of reassurance and comfort, both in words and in touch.
    • Try distracting with a snack or activity.
    • Avoid reminding them that they just asked the same question. Try ignoring the behavior or question, and instead try refocusing the person into an activity such as singing or âhelpingâ you with a chore.
    • Donât discuss plans with a confused person until immediately prior to an event.
    • You may want to try placing a sign on the kitchen table, such as, âDinner is at 6:30â or âLois comes home at 5:00â to remove anxiety and uncertainty about anticipated events.
    • Learn to recognize certain behaviors. An agitated state or pulling at clothing, for example, could indicate a need to use the bathroom.

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    Always Be The Parents Advocate

    No memory care community scores 100% in regards to perfection. Seniors and their loved ones can generally identify a few things to change to make the facility home. The elders, especially during their first days, may not be able to communicate this properly.

    It is therefore essential to take some time off and visit as often as possible. It will let caregivers know what your parents like and some of the changes that they would like to see implemented. Let the parent know that they can talk about what impresses him or her in the facility as well as any disappointments he or she may have.

    Do not visit in a hurry, as it is extremely important to spend quality time with your parent to know how they are fitting in. If possible, make arrangements to spend the entire or most of the weekend. This will give you a detailed look into the day-to-day life in the community.

    Even when not physically on the property, be sure to communicate with your parent as often as possible. Different means can be used for this including telephone, emails, or social media. Facetime works well because a person can see the parents reactions to know if they are happy or not.

    Focus On The Benefits Of Memory Care

    For Megan Newlin, a teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina, who worked with Nelson to find memory care for her mother, bringing up safety and staff friendliness made the conversation go smoother. After her mom suffered a series of seizures that affected her memory and mobility, Newlin highlighted how a memory care facility would better meet her needs.

    The way I phrased it was, Youre going to stay somewhere where theyre able to take care of you, says Newlin. She was really happy when I told her about the staff and their compassion.

    Nelson agrees that focusing on these relationships can keep the conversation positive and make memory care a more welcome transition. Similarly, talking about memory care therapies and activities may have the same effect.

    I needed my mom to be my mom again, and I needed to be her daughter again, but I was her caregiver. Now that I have someone else whos taking care of her, Im able to have that relationship again.

    Megan Newlin, a teacher who found memory care for her mother via A Place for Mom

    Parents will often say, Youre not shipping me off to a nursing home. People have these ideas in their heads that senior living is still like it was 20 to 30 years ago, but its changed, Nelson explains. Educate your parent on the types of communities, as well as the programming and structure that they have.

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    Compassionate Lying For Dementia Caregiving

    When lying helps my mom calm down then I am all for it. I struggled with telling her the truth and watching how she stressed out and got anxious. Telling a lie that will help her is the way to go at this point in our journey. You have to do what is right for you but I have tried it both ways and it is showing compassion if the lie puts her at ease.

    Tips For Moving A Parent With Dementia To Assisted Living

    How To Talk To Parents With Dementia

    As much as you might like to avoid the difficulties of transporting your parent directly to assisted living, there are no shortcuts. You may dread having to talk about the move, to even making adjustments after your loved one is safe in your chosen community.

    Jump ahead to these sections:

    The bumps in the road might be minor or they might be significant. If you are making this choice, it is because you need to. Whether it is for your parents safety or to relieve you of overwhelming caregiver duties, it can be a hard but necessary move to make.

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    Dont Counter Aggressive Behavior

    People with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s may become aggressive in response to the environment. Bath time is often when the aggressive behavior is displayed. The caregivers and/or family member’s approach may also play a part. Rushing, speaking harshly, or forcing a person may result in an aggressive response. When someone with memory loss displays aggressive behavior, it is a form of communication. It may be the only way a person has left to say, Pay attention to me! I don’t want to take a bath! When someone is communicating vigorously, it is the caregivers and/or family member’s job to respect that communication. Hitting, kicking, or biting are ways of saying, stop. The appropriate response is to stop. That doesnt mean not to try again in five minutes or a half an hour.

    Say What You Need To Saykindly

    Dont bombard your mom or dad with questions right away. Cover one thought or idea at a time and give them plenty of time to respond. They will likely be overwhelmed by the news and may not be able to process all of the details. Instead of getting upset, focus on speaking with kindness and validation. Using validation to communicate through dementia is an effective way to accept their reality and reduce agitation.

    As the disease progresses, if your parent isnt getting what you are trying to say, dont repeat the same question. Instead, try putting things another way. For instance, show them a photo of someone you are talking about. It can also be helpful to stick with questions that can be answered yes or no.

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    Reasons To Talk With A Parent About Dementia

    An early diagnosis can lead to better medical treatment, the Alzheimers Association says. Even though there is no cure for Alzheimers and no drugs to slow the disease, some medications may help with symptoms. And lifestyle changes, like better diet and more exercise, can potentially help preserve brain function. Other treatment options include services like Bethesdas Senior Support Solutions, which offers unique in-home care options and resources to assist you in providing for your parent.

    Your parent may also elect to participate in clinical trials for Alzheimers.

    Another important reason to get your parent tested if you suspect dementia: You might be wrong.

    Other illnesses and conditions can cause dementia-like symptoms that are potentially treatable. They include Lyme disease metabolic or endocrine problems certain medications, including anticholinergics like Benadryl autoimmune disorders such as Hashimotos thyroiditis and late-stage syphilis.

    You always want to find out what youre dealing with rather than just assume, well, this person is of a certain age and so they probably have Alzheimers, Drew said.

    How To Talk To Someone With Dementia Alzheimer’s Or Memory Loss

    How to Talk to a Parent About Dementia

    Communicating with a person with memory loss can be difficult, but the right strategies can bridge the gap and foster a more fulfilling relationship between you and your patient or loved one.

    Those struggling to communicate with a person who has memory loss are not alone. As many as four million people in the US may have Alzheimer’s, and, as our population ages, that number is expected to increase. Anyone who is a senior caregiver is likely to be affected and will need to understand how to cope with what is happening.

    Memory loss associated with aging, dementia, and Alzheimer’s typically doesnt happen overnight. Slowly, little-by-little, it sneaks up, until one day, family members realize that they can no longer communicate in the same way with the person they’ve known for years. They suddenly can’t rely on their words and their sentences dont match the situation.

    Because we cannot see the diseasethe way we see a broken armits even more confusing when caregivers see how their patient and/or loved one will have good and bad days. The days when theyre alert and clear-headed make a caregiver hopeful. Then the bad days come, and family members and caregivers feel the pain of losing their patient and/or loved one all over again. This slow and normal progression of the disease makes communication a major challenge for caregivers.

    This blog will share more information and advice to improve communication, including:

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    How Does Dementia Affect Communication

    The effects of dementia on the brain can worsen a persons:

    • Communication and cognition
    • Visual perception
    • Problem-solving skills

    Signs of dementia begin when healthy neurons or nerve cells in the brain stop working with other brain cells and die, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. While losing neurons is more common with age, people with dementia experience a severe loss of neurons, which can contribute to personality changes, a decrease in communication skills, and losing emotional control.

    Dont Answer Questions Of Patient/loved Ones Regarding Bad Memories

    People with Alzheimer’s often ask difficult questions, mostly about people who have passed away years ago. Its not helpful to remind the patient and/or loved one that a person theyre asking about has passed away. Rather than avoid the subject, you can say, He/shes not here right now, but tell me about him/her. Often the person with memory loss is looking for the sensation and security that they would have if their loved one was around.

    Caregivers and/or family members should be helping patients and/or loved ones comfortable, safe, and protected. Elderly women, for example, who have had children commonly ask, Where are my babies? This question will often come up at meal time, when feeding the children was an important part of motherhood. Find a way to soothe their concern. You could say, The babies are sleeping.

    As stated earlier, trying to bring a person with Alzheimer’s the present-day reality is not effective. Caregivers and/or family members should adapt to the patient and/or loved ones reality. Its ok to go anywhere in any time period in order to communicate.

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    Only Use Medication When Necessary

    Some people advocate for the use of sedatives to help moving a parent with dementia to assisted living. It is not necessarily the best approach to use because it may end up doing more harm than good. The medicine can in some cases cause more agitation and confusion. It is better to offer older adults plenty of family support and use non-drug techniques like comfort, pleasant distractions, and reassurance.

    If one must use medication, get opinion from experts. Some may advise the use of few doses of antipsychotic drugs instead of using sedatives.

    When A Parent Begins To Exhibit Early Signs Of Dementia Or Alzeimer’s It’s Difficult For Families To Address It These Tips Will Make The Process Easier

    Dealing with an aging parent with memory loss or dementia

    Mom was always scatterbrained, but shes been acting different lately. She isnt just leaving her car keys in the fridge or searching the house for the eyeglasses that were on her head the whole time. Her lapses are moving into less cute territory, like needing help remembering her grandchildren. You suspect shes exhibiting early signs of dementia. Alzheimers, maybe.

    You dont think this lightly. And, like most people, you have no idea how to talk about it. University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine Professor and Penn Memory Center co-director Jason Karlawish says that because theres high-octane stigma surrounding Alzheimers disease, its difficult for families to address dementia when they suspect it.

    Once theres stigma surrounding the disease, it limits peoples desire to find out if theres a problem and if they might have it or even just talk about it, Karlawish, one of the worlds foremost authorities on dementia, said. Proof: In a recent Alzheimers Association survey, nearly three quarters of Americans said it would be challenging to discuss this issue with a loved one.

    Its understandable that many families are reluctant to express their concerns and initiate a conversation, but there are good reasons to do so, Drew said. Early detection and diagnosis puts individuals and families in the best position to navigate a devastating disease. Avoiding the conversation and letting problems progress is the worst thing you can do.

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    Make The Move Seamless

    Packing and the move itself can be very distressing for someone with dementia. There are some ways to ensure that things go well.

    • Arrange for packing of all belongings without your parent present.
    • When the move occurs, take your parent out for the day to a park or lunch. Think of anything that is pleasant and distracting.
    • Ask another family member to unpack and place everything before your parent returns. This might seem like a lot to do, but if the whole sequence of events is tightly scheduled, it can work.
    • When you bring your parent back to assisted living, their room with all of their familiar items is organized and put away.

    Pay Attention To Tone Of Voice

    Slow down, leave pauses between each sentence, speak simply and never raise your voice. Keep things conversational this isnt a lecture or an interrogation.

    Make sure to always be respectful and think about how youd like to be treated. For example, dont talk about your parent when they are right there with you in the room. Always include your loved one in the conversation. People with dementia may feel isolated, so make sure they know you value them!

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