Dementia in the Elderly
A few tips on dealing with a Parent who has Dementia.
Are you dealing with Dementia in the Elderly?
Have you ever had to live with Dementia in the Elderly? Maybe your parent has gradually changed and become somewhat more difficult to talk to, quite forgetful and different from the way they used to be, you know something is wrong but are unable to put a finger on it.
Then your parent is being seen by a doctor for something unrelated and then you are told that they are suffering from Dementia.
How can you cope? How do you care for someone with Dementia?
Coping with Dementia in the Elderly
A big subject and a pretty emotional one as well.
I was listening to a lady called Jackie Highe today on the radio as she went through a few tips to look after patients suffering from dementia (Jackie has written a book on caring for patients with dementia). She came at it from a 'care setting' staff perspective but I have adapted it for the family member caring for a parent wither at home or in a setting away from their own home.
Before we get into that, have you ever watched the film 'The Notebook'? It is an amazing film which deals with dementia in the elderly. Take a look...
The Notebook - Showing Dementia in the Elderly
Dementia in the Elderly - Tips to help
Notice how he engages his wife.
- He is introduced by someone who is known to his wife so that there is trust immediately. He has to do this every time he sees her even though he has spent a lifetime with her and there are days when she will not relax with him but still he keeps trying.
Repeatedly remind them of who you are.
- She is in a familiar place with all her things around her. This helps keep her settled. It must be so confusing to wake up each morning and just not know how you came to be here and in some cases who you are. This could explain why some sufferers of Dementia become aggressive. It is the only way to maintain some independence.
If your parent is in a care setting, convince the staff to let him or her keep the things that she is used to. They might say there is a health risk but gently remind them that it will keep your parent calm to see familiar thing.
- Noah reads to his wife each day from the journal of their life together. It is a way of anchoring her to him. Stimulating her brain cells to remember her past and thereby link it to the present. Sometimes it works, other times it does not.
Chat with your parent as frequently as you can. It might keep them from settling in a completely dissociated zone. In some care settings, I have seen elderly Dementia patients who just rock in a chair all day with no interaction at all. They seem to have completely left the building.
- Noah is patient with his wife. It is difficult for him to see the woman he loves, not know him, sometimes lash out at him and generally leave him feeling lonely. However he keeps showing up and though he feels pain at her suffering, he recognises that she is not herself, the disease has taken over a great part of her.
It is no doubt hard seeing your parent unable to remember most things and gradually get worse. Their mood may change so much from when they were completely lucid. However, try to remain patient and keep showing up as much as you can.
- Noah worked with the care staff in the setting where he remained to be close to his wife.
This is so important. Try to speak at depth with the staff if your parent is being cared for by others. Get an idea of the care plan - This way you can handle any queries from your parent.
It might be your other parent that does most of the caring, find out from them how your ill parent is doing and also what things have happened. Your ill parent may try to get you on their side against the carer, as they may be confused as to the role of the carer and begin to feel there is a conspiracy underfoot. Try to reassure that all is well.
Should people place their elderly parent with Dementia in a care setting?
What do you think?
Resources to help you deal with Dementia in the Elderly.
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One last thing...
A very important issue
Dealing with dementia in an elderly parent is very difficult. It is challenging to watch their memory deteriorate. A once gentle parent may become manipulative and aggressive.
My final word to you is to try hard to banish guilt. You know what I mean...