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How to Support a Parent With Dementia

Updated: Dec 4, 2022

When a parent is diagnosed with dementia, it can be challenging to know how to best support them. The disease can progress in different ways for different people, so it’s essential to understand the signs and symptoms and be ready for changes in behavior.

You can do many things to help your parents stay as independent as possible for as long as possible.

If your parent has dementia, here are some valuable tips to help you treat them with respect and kindness:

1. Understand the signs and symptoms of dementia. It will help you better to understand your parent’s condition and how it might progress. Some common signs and symptoms of dementia include memory loss, difficulty communicating, behavioral changes, and impaired motor skills.

  • Talk to a healthcare professional, such as your doctor, caregiver, or occupational therapist, to help you identify the signs and symptoms associated with dementia.

  • Also, healthcare professionals can provide you with the support you need to cope with the day-to-day challenges of having a parent with dementia.

2. Be patient and understanding. It's challenging to communicate with a parent who has dementia. They may have trouble understanding what you’re saying or may say things that make little sense. Use these tips to help you develop patience and understanding:

  • Talk slowly and clearly and use short, simple sentences.

  • Allow plenty of time for your parent to respond and avoid questions that require complicated answers.

  • If your parent becomes agitated, try to stay calm and avoid conflict and disagreements.

3. Help your parents stay independent for as long as possible. You can do several steps to help your parents maintain their independence. Some ideas include:

  • Encourage your parents to stay active in activities they enjoy. It could involve going for walks, doing puzzles, or attending social events.

  • Help them with basic tasks such as bathing, dressing, and eating. If your parent has advanced dementia, a professional caregiver will have to step in or assist you.

  • Make sure their home is safe and easy to navigate. It may involve removing trip hazards, installing handrails, or providing assistive devices such as a wheelchair or walker.

  • Encourage your parents to eat a healthy diet and stay hydrated. It is crucial as dehydration can worsen the symptoms of dementia.

  • Promote social interaction by arranging regular visits from friends and family members.

4. Plan activities that your parents will enjoy. It’s important to find activities that your parents will enjoy and be able to take part in. Some ideas include:

  • Attending social events such as concerts, plays, or sporting events

  • Engaging in gardening, painting, crafting, or listening to music

  • Taking part in group activities such as support groups, book clubs, or religious groups

  • Spending time in nature

  • Also, physical activities such as walking, swimming, and Tai Chi can help.

5. Seek support from other family members or professionals. It’s important to seek support from other family members or professionals to help you care for your parents. Some ideas include:

  • Attend a support group for caregivers of people with dementia.

  • Hire a professional caregiver to provide respite care.

  • Ask other family members or friends to help with transport, shopping, or other tasks.

  • Use government services and programs designed to help caregivers of people with dementia. Contact a helpline like the Alzheimer’s Association Helpline for support and information.

Learn to Use Physical Reminders

Placing vital information in a place where it cannot be forgotten is the greatest method to help a person with dementia remember it. This frequently entails placing post-it notes all over the house, labeling phone alarms, and positioning essentials in plain view.

These tangible reminders, however, are useful for more than simply a to-do list.

They can also provide comfort if your parent experiences anxiety or paranoia. Affirmations can be written on a poster that you can hang somewhere so that people can view it when they are feeling anxious or stressed. You can also want to leave them cards, modest gifts, or photos with comments written on the backs that remind them of your affection.

Health Insurance and Medical Care

Placing vital information in a place where it cannot be forgotten is the greatest method to help a person with dementia remember it. This frequently entails placing post-it notes all over the house, labeling phone alarms, and positioning essentials in plain view.

We all have trouble understanding health insurance, but for someone with advanced dementia, it's impossible. You will be in charge of making sure your parent is registered in a health insurance plan that provides the coverage they require as their caregiver.

Do your homework to understand the many sub-plans and the possibilities within them if your parent has Medicare. Since dementia is a persistent and incapacitating condition, they can be eligible for a special needs plan (SNP). On Medicare, you can find out more about the standards you must fulfill in order to be eligible for these programs.

You'll also need to assist them in finding local, in-network medical professionals and make appointments for them with their primary care physician and any necessary specialists, in addition to enrolling them in the appropriate insurance plan. Regular check-ups are necessary to maintain a dementia patient's health and comfort because they are likely to have other health issues as well.

Considering Assisted Living and Long-Term Dementia Care

Regardless of how much you may love your parents, taking care of a parent who has dementia can be stressful for the caregiver. Members of the gap generation can find it difficult to provide their parents with the care they require while also caring for their own children, a career, and other personal commitments. When that time arrives, your parent's best course of action might be to move into an assisted living or long-term care facility.

Try to involve your parent in as many decision-making processes as you can to make the transition process easier. Make sure they attend any crucial meetings and let them tour other residences until they select one that feels like home. Once they've moved in, attempt to establish a routine of frequent visits while also leaving behind tangible signs of your affection.

In Conclusion

These are some tips to help you treat your parents with dementia. It’s important to be patient and understanding, help them stay independent, plan activities they will enjoy. Also, health care, assisted living care, and physical reminders. Also, seek support from other family members or professionals to make the caregiving journey more manageable and less stressful for you and your parents.


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