As people age, their minds and bodies respond differently than before. Some people age with little difficulty, while others may face serious cognitive, behavioral, or physical limitations. One common cognitive disorder affecting seniors is dementia. If your parent was recently diagnosed or you suspect they’re developing signs of a cognitive disorder, check out these best ways to care for a parent with dementia for support.
The main thing you can do is remain positive. Dementia is associated with memory loss, impaired language, and difficulties with problem-solving. Dementia itself is an overarching term associated with various cognitive disorders and diseases. The most prevalent is Alzheimer’s, which occurs in 60 to 80 percent of dementia patients. Other types of dementia include vascular dementia, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s Disease. Having a doctor diagnose your parent will help you better cope with the related symptoms.
When trying to get your parent’s attention, speak clearly and confidently. Use simple words and sentences and speak in a slow, distinct, and reassuring tone. Try to avoid shouting or raising your voice. It may even help to lower your pitch to better communicate your message. If speaking still doesn’t help, write down what you want to say. Otherwise, wait a few minutes and rephrase the sentence. Limit external noise from the TV or stereo, and close doors and windows to silence outside traffic.
Plan Simple Activities
One of the best ways to care for a parent with dementia is to plan simple activities that they enjoy. Don’t be surprised if you need to deconstruct these activities into steps. It’s more effective and safer to make tasks more manageable for your parent. Use an encouraging, friendly tone throughout the activity. It also helps to use visual cues to get the purpose across. If your loved one becomes upset or agitated, speak calmly and reassure them that everything is okay. If needed, distract them or suggest a different activity. That way, you connect with them on a personal level while they coordinate their brain through these difficulties.
Consider Alternative Living Care
Finally, it’s okay to turn to additional support services if you cannot manage this responsibility on your own. The two most common support services for dementia patients are assisted living centers and home care services. However, it can be challenging to choose between the two. Both have their pros and cons, so take some time in your research to determine whether assisted living or home care is better for your situation.