If your parent is having increasing memory problems as she or he ages, this is not uncommon. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are approximately 6.2 million Americans over age 65 who live with Alzheimer’s dementia. The number is even higher when you include other types of dementia.
For family members who are both familiar and unfamiliar with the disease, caring for a loved one with dementia can be challenging. Although research remains limited, there is a growing body of knowledge from doctors, psychologists and caregivers. As a result, an increasing number of resources are available. Read on for some tips on caring for an aging parent with dementia.
1. Introduce changes early
When dementia causes your parent to stop caring for him or herself, you need to look at living assistance. Similarly, when he or she can no longer manage financial responsibilities, legal guardianship may be necessary. Before these changes happen, introducing the ideas early can give your parent time to process them before dementia progresses.
2. Reconsider your communication approach
When communication is difficult, it can be helpful to change your approach. When you are tempted to argue with an irrational statement, remember it is the disease talking, not your parent. If you are unsure what to say, try laughing it off. Sometimes, it is all that you can do.
3. Be kind to yourself
If you are not taking care of yourself, how can you take care of someone else? Caring for someone with dementia can be exhausting. Feelings of frustration, anger and resentment are normal, and it is important that you make time for things that you enjoy to help you through this time.
Dementia can be emotional and challenging, but following tips like this often helps families adjust. Remember, you are not alone.