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8 Steps for Families Dealing With a Parent’s Dementia Diagnosis

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Although dementia is not a natural part of aging, it is common in people belonging to the 65 and above age group. But how common is dementia?

The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) states: “Of those at least 65 years of age, there is an estimated 5 million adults with dementia in 2014 and projected to be nearly 14 million by 2060.”

If any one of your parents is diagnosed with dementia, it can suddenly turn your world upside down. Planning for the care of your parent and managing life going forward is crucial. Here are eight steps to help your family deal with the challenges of caring for a parent with dementia, adapted from an Alzheimer’s Association article:

Step 1: Understand Dementia

Learning about dementia and knowing what to expect will help you plan and prepare for the changes. Look for information about dementia and learn about your parent’s symptoms from doctors and trusted online sources. Gather all the information you can find and share it with your siblings and relatives.

Step 2: Recognize and Adapt to Changes

As you go along with your parent’s dementia care, you’ll learn that changes in behavior are among the challenges you will face. With this, you must know how to adapt to the changes to keep your parent safe. Simple precautions like removing tripping hazards, adjusting the lighting, and leaving notes to remind them of their daily routines are great for creating a secure environment.

Step 3: Be Mindful and Respectful

Instead of thinking about your mom or dad as being less than who they used to be, think of them as being different. More than anything, they need your understanding and care to ensure they retain their inherent dignity. Help them engage in meaningful activities and feel they are still in control of some aspects of their lives.

Step 4: Understand Your Options for Dementia Treatment

For most types of dementia, there is no cure, but there are medications that can help mitigate the symptoms. Work with your parent’s doctor for a strategy for managing behaviors while improving your parent’s quality of life. It is also essential to understand that as dementia progresses, changes in care plans are necessary.

Step 5: Plan for Long Term Care

You might be planning to care for your mom or dad at home, which is also a good option. However, you should consider long-term care. Start by looking into facilities that could provide care for your loved one. Additionally, you should also plan to hire trained professionals when the time comes that your loved one starts showing signs of aggression.

Step 6: Understand Caregiver’s Fatigue

Caring for someone who has dementia is both meaningful and rewarding. However, you must understand that dementia care can be stressful and challenging. Taking a break and talking to someone about what you’re going through is essential. A Science Direct study concluded:

“A single call provided a measurable benefit to caregivers’ mental health, ability to manage emotions, and ability to engage in action planning and accessing resources.”

Step 7: Gather Legal and Financial Documents

When your parent shows signs of memory loss, help them get their legal and financial documents in order. Talk to their lawyer and discuss signing documents like power of attorney, a living will, and a last will. Gather information about their monthly bills, insurance policies, tax records, financial accounts, etc.

Step 8: Get Support

Connect with an Alzheimer’s community support group for help. You and your loved ones don’t have to go through everything alone. Many organizations and communities offer resources and advice for people who have dementia.

In addition, Grand Brook Memory Care has been supporting families on their memory care journey for over two decades. To speak with one of our compassionate team members or to learn more about our specially designed memory care communities in North Texas, Indiana, Michigan, or Arkansas, please contact us today.

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