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Caring For a Parent With Dementia

Apr 1, 2008
As our parents age we can expect them to be confronted with one or more major health problems.What if that problem is Dementia,which can result from a number of illnesses such as Alzheimer's Disease,Parkinson's Disease,Stroke and many other conditions.

There are a number of things that we can do to make caring for a parent with dementia easier.

1.Keep a sense of humour.As painful as the situation is there are many times during the long,exhausting days when very funny things are said or done.Laugh about them together with your parent or spouse or friend,or even write them down.Humour and laughter are important ingredients in coping and staying healthy.

2.Provide a safe environment for your parent.There are a number of things to consider.For example,Does your parent wander at night,perhaps dressing and trying to go out in the middle of the night? Are the doors securely locked so your parent cannot easily open them?Is there a gate that can be locked to prevent wandering in the street? Are there rugs,furniture,toys or cords lying around that could cause your parent to trip and perhaps fall and break a bone?

3.At all times,regardless of how difficult or stressful you may be finding the situation,give your parent Dignity.There are times when it may seem as if your parent does not know you or some other family member,but we don't really know what is going on in that person's mind.How much do they actually know what is happening to them?This is so important.A few years ago a man I know had a brain hemorrhage and could not speak for many months.He later said that the whole time he could think normally and thought he was actually okay.So always give your parent the dignity they deserve and you would like if you were in their situation.

4.Make use of any government or community agencies that can help you carry your load.Many communities provide visiting nurses to assist with showering and other tasks,care workers who may sit with your parent while you have some respite,cleaners and other services.

5.Rest whenever you can.Caring for an aged parent with dementia is extremely exhausting,as is caring for anyone with a disability.We all need rest to be able to continue caring for our loved one for the longterm.
Allow other family members to assist.Make "YES" a part of your vocabulary when someone asks if they can do something to help.

6.In a similar vein,with your immediate family perhaps you can have a family discussion on what each family member can do to share the load.Include the children,as it helps them to learn the importance of caring and sharing within the family,and to be less self-centered than our modern world tends to create in our children.

7.Around the home put signs up indicating different rooms.For example,toilet,bathroom,Mum's room and so forth.

8.Until your parent is no longer capable of doing so,give them small tasks to carry out.Perhaps if it is your mother give her a few small items from the washing to fold,even if she repeats the task over and over.Or if the patient is your father,he may be able to dry some small dishes or cups.It is good for your parent to feel they are of use,despite their deterioration which is so obvious to all around them.

9.Take time to sit and talk with your parent about things in their past.You will learn things you never knew about them.Share family photographs and talk about the people in them.

10.At times your parent may become agitated.Rather than argue with them it is better to change the subject,which will be quickly forgotten,or go out of the room for a few moments.

11.If your parent seems to have deteriorated suddenly there could be an underlying health problem,such as a bladder infection which is aggravating their condition.

12.Cherish the moments when your parent remembers some little incident that you thought was long forgotten.There is happiness in the sadness of caring for a parent with dementia.
About the Author
Brenda Shaylor runs an online business which provides a large amount of resources in many different categories,catering to the needs of families today.
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