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When A Parent Has Dementia

Apathy And Withdrawal Or Depression

My Parent Has Dementia – Do I Need a Guardianship?

Changes in mood can be an indication that your loved one has dementia. Perhaps they avoid being social because of the changes in their brain that theyre experiencing. They may also have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby, so they may start to withdraw from things they previously enjoyed. Depression is typical in dementia.

Because dementia involves damage of nerve cells in the brain, someone with dementia can experience psychological changes that cause rapid mood swings. They can become confused, suspicious, fearful, or anxious.

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!

Tips On Transitioning A Loved One To Memory Dementia Or Alzheimers Care

As your loved ones memory declines, or as the effects of dementia or Alzheimers disease become too much for the family or caregivers to handle, you will have to make the decision to place her in memory, dementia, or Alzheimers care. After you have consulted your family and her healthcare professionals, made financial arrangements, and chosen your loved ones new home, you have to prepare for transitioning her to a new level of care. You understand the need for the move, but it still is difficult for you to accept the decision, and your emotions run even higher when you think about telling your loved one and anticipate moving day.

To help ease the transition for your loved one , we have rounded up 50 tips from caregivers, memory care facility administrators, dementia and Alzheimers experts, and others who have experience in working with seniors who require special care. Keep in mind that everyone handles the transition differently, and you will need to use the tips that best fit your loved ones personality and needs and your situation. Please note, our 50 tips for easing the transition to memory, dementia, or Alzheimers care are not listed in order of importance or value in any way rather, we have categorized them to help you find the tips that will be most useful to you.

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Do Invest In Your Own Recovery

Self-care is just as important as supporting a loved ones recovery. Participate in activities that bring you joy and spend time with positive influences. Participating in family recovery services and workshops will help you experience your own parallel healing process. You can also attend family support groups like Nar-Anon, where you will meet other parents who are coping with their childrens addictions and learn strategies for healing along with your loved one.

Addiction does not discriminate based on age, and many individuals develop substance use disorders later in life. Luckily, even if your son or daughter falls into this category, they still have time to turn their life around. As much as you may want to shield your child from their inner demons, they need to make their own informed decisions. Nevertheless, as someone who has known and cared for them their entire lives, you can play a valuable role in encouraging them to be the best version of themselves.

The first step is to know that your questions and feelings are normal. The next step is to talk to someone about those feelings.

Click below to start your recovery journey today!

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As the disease progresses, so will the needs of your loved one. You can care for the physical needs of your loved one by closely coordinating care with his or her physician. Just as important is your ability to remain a caregiver for the long term. Having a strong care team by your side can make this easier.

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Avoid Confrontations With Your Parent

Communication skills for people living with dementia deteriorate over time. They cannot express what they need or feel as well as they did in the past. Consequently, frustration sets in leading to frequent outbursts of anger. Do not take it personally. At the same time, caregivers experience a diverse mix of issues. For example, maybe caring for a person with dementia is becoming problematic for them. That is especially true when trying to reconcile such care with work and social schedules. Consequently, they may lash out at their parent out of frustration when their parent cannot understand something or fails to follow a particular instruction. Stop these confrontations as soon as you think your parent has dementia. Do not fight over who is right or wrong with them. Do not push them to accept that they said something when they believe that they did not say it. Do not become angry with them when they forget about something you have just told them. It could be memory loss setting in as the disease that they are experiencing worsens.

Give One Instruction At A Time

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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Alzheimers Caregiving: Taking Care Of Yourself

If youâre taking care of children and someone with Alzheimerâs disease, you need to take care of yourself too. Youâve probably heard that before. In fact, youâve probably heard that a hundred times before.

And your natural reaction might be something like: âI have to take care of my mother, work a full-time job, and raise two kids who have school and dance lessons and soccer practice. I donât have a spare minute in the day to take care of myself.â

But this isnât fuzzy, touchy-feely advice. Itâs a stark fact. If you want to keep taking care of your family and your loved one, you need to keep it together. To keep it together, you need to give yourself breaks. Here are some things to keep in mind.

So what are some ways of coping with stress when youâre an Alzheimerâs caregiver?

Of course, getting time for yourself hinges on getting help from others. âI think Americans have trouble asking for help,â says Eric J. Hall, president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America in New York City. âBut you really cannot take care of your loved one by yourself.â

When youâre overwhelmed, itâs easy to get locked into your habits, to keep doing things the same way even if theyâre not working. But try to keep some perspective and think of creative ways to get help. At the very least, reach out to some of local and national organizations for Alzheimerâs caregiver support.

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What To Do If You Think Your Parent Has Dementia

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Caregivers who are worried about their aging parents cognitive health should ensure they make an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible for a thorough physical and mental health evaluation. This comprehensive checkup should include bloodwork and urine tests to rule out other causes of cognitive decline as well as a series of mental assessments to check their memory, problem solving skills, and math and language skills. Diagnostic imaging may be necessary as well.

A complete medical exam for memory loss should review a persons medical history, including their use of prescription and over-the-counter medications, diet, past medical problems and general health. A correct diagnosis depends on accurate details. Sometimes dementia patients cannot recognize their impairment , so the doctor may request additional information from a family member, caregiver or close friend.

It is important to note that there is no single, definitive diagnostic test for dementia. Physicians like neurologists, geriatricians and psychiatrists typically use a combination of tests and assessments to diagnose dementia.

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Although a dementia diagnosis might not be made when symptoms initially present, the results of these tests can be used as a baseline for comparison against the results of future testing. Establishing a cognitive baseline is important for anyone who is concerned about their future cognitive health.

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Respect Personal Style Choices

What you may think looks nice or decent may be far off from what your parent likes to wear. When it comes to picking out clothing for your loved one, offer them options similar to the style of clothes they already own. Do they like to wear a certain article of clothing on specific days or occasions? Options will help your loved one feel as though they still have control over some things in their life. Sometimes too many options can be overwhelming, but you still want to offer them choices. In this situation you might hold up two blouses and ask, Would you like to wear the red blouse or the blue blouse?

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Planning For A Parents Future

Early diagnosis is crucial for allowing dementia patients and their families to effectively prepare legally, financially and medically. Ideally, most of these preparations and discussions will have taken place long before you suspect changes in their mental state. If not, helping your parent spell out their wishes while they are still capable of participating is an important step in planning for their future. Clarifying what is happening to a parents memory, judgement, moods and behaviors also makes it much easier for their loved ones to accept these changes and come together to create a care plan that accommodates them.

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Signs Your Parent Needs To Be Tested

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.

Find The Why In A Dispute

When Your Parent Has Dementia

It can help to think about reasons your parent may be arguing with you, Zarit says. One thing is their own anger and fear over needing help. No one likes to feel dependent. Also, keep in mind that you are their child. They may not want to accept advice from you, no matter how rational it might seem to you.

Instead of getting swept up, take a breather to dial down the conflict. Zarit recommends mindfulness training to help lessen stress and keep calm. Rooted in Buddhism, but no longer just religion-based, the practice teaches you to stay in the present with a focus on your breath. A geriatric mental health specialist can also help you come up with other ways to keep the peace.

Continued

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Know The Signs Of Dementia

Early diagnosis can help people with dementia plan for the future, and might mean they can access interventions that help slow down the disease. Being familiar with the signs of dementia can help people receive a diagnosis as early as possible.

Early signs that a person might have dementia can include:

  • being vague in everyday conversations
  • memory loss that affects day-to-day function
  • short term memory loss
  • difficulty performing everyday tasks and taking longer to do routine tasks
  • losing enthusiasm or interest in regular activities
  • difficulties in thinking or saying the right words
  • changes in personality or behaviour
  • finding it difficult to follow instructions
  • finding it difficult to follow stories
  • increased emotional unpredictability.

Refusing To Go To The Doctor

Some people with dementia may not want to bother with attending a doctors appointment or may insist that it is not necessary. The tips below can help you address the concern and figure out what may be driving the refusal.

  • Is the issue urgent? If it isnt, pick your battles and consider using telehealth instead for a routine appointment.
  • Try and find out what the fear or concern is. Perhaps your parent doesnt like the doctor or is afraid of needles. Be reassuring, and avoid using a condescending tone.
  • If there is an urgent need, you may have to push more forcefully for a visit. Do so with confidence but kindness.

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Understand That The Conversation May Not Go Well

Someone experiencing early dementia might not see the symptoms in themselves. Even though the diagnosis is accurate, your loved one may show signs of denial and withdrawal and be unwilling to discuss it. Or they could even get angry or defensive. Forcing the conversation will likely be ineffective. Instead, take a break and plan to reopen the discussion after your parent has had some time to digest the news.

What Not To Say After A Dementia Diagnosis

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Conversational techniques we take for granted can be inappropriate when communicating with someone with dementia. Here are some donts and dos for that first day and every day after:

  • DONT say, I just told you that. People neednt be reminded of their memory challenges. DO overlook the repetition and focus on listening to them.
  • DONT use lengthy sentences that present multiple ideas. DO stick to one thought at a time. See if you can break things down into chunks.
  • DONT treat your loved one like a child. DO remember they’re still the person you know and love.
  • DONT ask how they spent their day. DO try to stick with whats going on right now!
  • DONT try to stimulate your loved ones memory. Don’t ask them if they remember the time you went to the zoo because if they dont remember, it can make them feel ashamed. DO say that YOU remember a time when you had a fun time at the zoo together. This lets your parent reflect on the memory without feeling bad if they dont recall it.
  • DONT remind them about a loved one who passed away. One of the tricks that memory can play is that your parent might forget about the death of someone they were very close to. Bringing this up might not be the best idea. Nor is explaining it when they ask where their loved one is. DO say nice things about those whove passed, or recall a pleasant memory of them.
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    Existence Of A Written Will

    If your loved one does not have a will, and there are no signs of dementia, it may be a good idea to draft a will in anticipation of the future onset of dementia. This also is a good time to create an inventory of all assets and liabilities locate deeds, bank accounts, tax documents, and insurance policies and tie up any other contractual and/or financial loose ends.

    If he or she does not have a will and is exhibiting clear signs of dementia, you may want to consider options such as guardianship. The court may not recognize a will signed or executed while the individual is suffering from dementia but the individual’s estate will be handled by the state in the absence of a will.

    If he or she already has written and signed a will, keep in mind that changes made by someone deemed mentally incompetent may not be held as valid .

    Paranoia Delusion And Hallucinations

    Distortions of reality, such as paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations, can be another result of the disease process in dementia. Not everyone with dementia develops these symptoms, but they can make dementia much more difficult to handle.

    Lewy body dementia, in particular, increases the likelihood of delusions and hallucinations, although they can occur in all types of dementia.

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    Retreating From The Situation

    Older children and teenagers can often seem preoccupied with their own lives and may retreat to their own rooms or stay out more than usual. They may find the situation particularly hard to handle because of all the other changes and uncertainties in their lives.

    Teenagers may feel embarrassed to talk about their feelings, but they still need to know that you love them and that you want to understand what they are going through. They may need some time before they are ready to talk about how they feel.

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