Your Parent Has Been Diagnosed With Dementia - Now What?

There can be nothing more devastating than finding out that one of your parents has just been diagnosed with dementia. This terrible disease will eventually leave them without most of their memories and they might not even be able to recognize their closest friends and family even more. It can be very distressing for them as they start to become confused in the world around them, and you and your family will find it equally upsetting, especially when they start to forget who you are.

Thankfully, though, dementia and its related illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s, can be quite slow to develop. Hopefully, you will still have a few good years left with them so that you can try and share a few more good times with them. But once their symptoms start to worsen and become more persistent, you will need to start caring for your parent and looking after them in the best possible way.

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Adjusting to life with a parent who has dementia can be very tricky. Here are some useful tips that can help you make their life as comfortable as possible.

Maintain Positivity

Even though dementia is a very negative and heartbreaking illness, it really is key that you try and maintain your positivity throughout. This should then, hopefully, rub off onto your parent and it will help to keep their spirits up. It is also important that you try and communicate to your parent in a positive manner. This will help them respond better to you if they already have quite advanced dementia and are prone to confusion. Don’t ever speak to them angrily or while upset, as these emotions will rub onto them and will only distress them.

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Help Them Stick With Hobbies

It’s always good to try and keep a dementia patient busy and preoccupied as much as possible. This can help to take their mind off their illness, and it can also keep them focused for a while regardless of their symptoms. So, you should try and help them stick with any hobbies that they were into before they got their diagnosis. You can do this by offering them lifts to clubs, for example. If your parent is into quiet pastimes at home, such as crosswords, knitting, or sewing, you might like to take up this hobby as well so that you can spend time doing it together.

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Use Clear Words

It can be very easy to confuse someone who is suffering from dementia, even when you are only talking about a very simple concept or topic. So, when you do speak with your parent, it is really important that you try and do so as plainly as possible. Use simple words that they will be able to grasp without too many problems. You should also endeavor to speak as clearly as possible so that they can hear you and follow the conversation without too many issues.

Remember Happy Times

Many dementia patients find that remembering the past can be very soothing and comforting. So, it’s worth taking the time out regularly to help your parent remember their younger years. A great way to do this is to look through some family photos to remember all the happy memories that you have shared together. You might find that this is an odd suggestion, as your parent might not be able to remember what happened an hour ago, but you could be surprised to see that they can still remember things that happened decades ago! One really useful tip is to ask generic questions about their past if you want to start a conversation. This will get the conversation really flowing compared to questions about what they were doing forty-five minutes ago!

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Consider A Retirement Home

Once a dementia patient’s symptoms that to persist, you might find that it is too much to look after them on your own. If you find that you are getting very stressed and your parent’s health or mental state is worsening, then it is worth looking for some support. It could be best for your parent to move into a retirement home where they can receive round-the-clock care and support from health professionals who have plenty of experience of dealing with dementia sufferers. You can find out more about Parc Provence and all the other homes that specialize in care for dementia patients by visiting their websites. It’s a good idea to visit a few different homes so that you get a feel for each of them and can make an informed decision about which one is best for your parent.

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Try To Prevent Wandering

One thing that many caregivers struggle with is trying to prevent someone with dementia wander off and go missing. Wandering is very common among dementia and Alzheimer’s sufferers as they will often forget where they are and what they are doing. If you are struggling to keep your parent in one spot, there are a few different things that you might want to try to minimize wandering.

Help them get as much exercise throughout the day as possible. This way, they won’t get quite so restless, which is one of the main causes of wandering.

Install locks that are high up on doors in their home. This way, they will find it harder to leave the house when the doors are locked.

Hide important items, such as their coat, glasses, and wallet or purse. Some people won’t be so keen to leave the house without these items.

Place a curtain in front of the front door of the house. Some dementia sufferers might not be so willing to try and pass this block.

Get your parent to wear an ID bracelet. There are a few of these you can buy that are specifically for dementia sufferers. If they do go missing, they will then be easier to track down.

Looking after a parent who has dementia can be very hard on all those involved. Hopefully, all the tips above will make it easier for you.

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