Perhaps you’ve seen the signs, and you suspect your parent might be developing some form of dementia. If this is the case, life may begin changing for you and your loved one. Some tips for dealing with dementia in a parent include educating yourself, planning for the future, staying connected, being patient, and, of course, remembering to take care of yourself.
Remember that dementia, or one of its related conditions, must be diagnosed by a healthcare provider, so that’s the first step before getting too concerned. But appointments with your loved one’s doctor are a great chance for you to begin educating yourself. Plus, keep reading this blog to find out a little bit more about dementia so you can be better equipped to help your parent.
What Is Dementia?
Dementia is a set of symptoms caused by certain diseases or disorders. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, accounting for about 60-80% of all dementia cases. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that causes the brain to shrink and affects memory, thinking, and behavior.
Other common types of dementia include vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, and frontotemporal dementia. Each type of dementia has its unique symptomology and can vary in the way it progresses.
Symptoms of Dementia
Some common signs of dementia include:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
- Poor judgment
- Changes in personality and mood
- Language problems
- Forgetting recent events or new information
- Asking the same things repeatedly
- Decreasing ability for rational thinking and conversations
It’s important to note that these symptoms are often subtle and may not present themselves all at once, and they may vary between individuals. But it’s essential to seek medical attention if you notice any of these symptoms in your loved one. A doctor can diagnose dementia by conducting a series of tests, including cognitive and memory tests, physical exams, and brain scans.
Is There a Cure for Dementia?
Currently, there’s no cure for dementia or any way to reverse it. However, research is ongoing to find cures for dementia-causing diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, and dementia with Lewy bodies. While we don’t have a cure yet, some treatments can help manage the symptoms of dementia.
Medications such as donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon), and galantamine (Razadyne ER) are often used. These drugs are primarily used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, but they can also be beneficial for other types of dementia. There’s also memantine, an NMDA receptor antagonist, which is used for severe cases.
How to Deal with Dementia in a Parent
There isn’t a single best way to cope with dementia. A dementia diagnosis will typically result in some significant changes in your loved one’s and your life. So, let’s explore a few ways you and your parent can manage the changes.
The first step in helping your parent deal with dementia is to educate yourself on the condition. Learn about the different types of dementia and their symptoms, as well as how they can affect your parent’s day-to-day life. Understanding the disease’s progression can help you anticipate changes in your parent’s behavior and plan accordingly.
It may also be helpful to speak with your parent’s doctor or a dementia specialist to better understand their case.
Dealing with a parent who has dementia can be frustrating, but it’s important to remember that their behavior is not intentional. Your parent may forget important information, become disoriented, or repeat stories over and over again. Be patient with them, and try to avoid getting frustrated if they have difficulty remembering something or performing a task. Instead, offer gentle reminders and focus on helping them feel comfortable and safe.
As your parent’s dementia progresses, they may become increasingly isolated from friends and family members. Interestingly enough, research links social isolation to an increased risk of developing dementia, so this isolation certainly won’t help if your loved one is already experiencing dementia.
It’s important to make an effort to stay connected and engaged with them. Plan regular visits or phone calls, and try to involve your parent in activities they enjoy.
Plan for the Future
Your parent may need increasing levels of care and support as the dementia progresses. It’s important to plan for the future and make arrangements for their care. This may include hiring a caregiver, enrolling them in an adult day care program, or eventually moving them into a memory care community. These decisions can be difficult, but it’s important to involve your parent in the decision-making process and be open to their desires and preferences.
Take Care of Yourself
Dealing with a parent who has dementia can be emotionally and physically draining. It’s important to take care of yourself during this time as well. Make time to relax, recharge, and seek support from friends and family or a support group. Remember that you are not alone, and resources are available to help you navigate this difficult time. For example, respite care may be a good option if you are your parent’s primary caregiver and need a break for any reason.
A New Home & Proper Support
Dementia can make for a trying time for older parents and their children. But it doesn’t have to be a problem. Communities exist that specialize in ensuring that people with cognitive function problems like dementia get the support they need in their daily lives.