“Mom has dementia…now what?”
“My mother has dementia; what do I do?”
“How can I help my mother with dementia?”
These all may be questions you’re wrestling with as an adult child dealing with a parent who has dementia. Caregiving when a parent has dementia is taxing, especially if they live with you. Between 65 and 75% of dementia patients are cared for at home by family members, including spouses and adult children.
As an adult child, you likely weren’t ready for the roles to reverse where you begin “parenting” your elderly parents. Being a family caregiver is not light work. It involves helping loved ones with activities of daily living (ADL) such as bathing, grooming, dressing, and feeding—tasks they can no longer do themselves.
It may be difficult to see dementia in elderly parents, impairing their ability to live alone and independently function. You want to remember them as they were before the disease, not as they are. But at the end of the day, you simply want to know, “How can I help my mom with dementia?” In some cases, that may result in you becoming a family caregiver, but in others, it means reaching out for professional help.
Whether you’re living with a parent with dementia as their full-time caregiver or looking for at-home dementia care, keep reading. We provide resources on dementia and tell you who to call when you can’t cope with a dementia parent anymore.
What to Expect When a Parent Has Dementia
Dealing with a parent who has dementia can feel like a daily battle—and you need to be prepared. Before we explain what to do if your parent has dementia or answer “How can I help my mother with dementia?” you must understand the changes your loved one is experiencing/will experience so you can better support them.
Some cognitive changes are a normal part of aging, but severe changes are not normal. Age-related declines include:
- Slowness in thinking
- Low attention span
- Fuzzy memory
- Delayed problem solving
- Difficulty finding the right word(s)
A person with dementia lives with major cognitive impairment that compromises their ability to function; it’s not just “memory loss.” They also lose their coordination, balance, motor skills, and become easily confused. One way to deal with cognitive impairment caused by dementia is to break down complex tasks into small, manageable steps. Repeat yourself as necessary and, most of all, be patient.
As your loved one’s brain struggles to process information, emotional changes are inevitable. They want to be independent, capable, and social, but their condition disables them from realizing that these desires are unattainable given their state.
Some common emotional changes include:
When dealing with a parent who has dementia, you need to recognize and respect their feelings. When they’re emotionally distraught, reassure them and let them know you love them.
Nearly everyone with dementia will develop significant behavioral changes as the condition progresses. Some of the most common dementia-related behaviors include:
According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, one of the biggest challenges family caregivers face is behavioral issues in their loved ones. Do your best to remain calm in high stress situations, reminding yourself that these dementia behaviors are the disease talking, not your loved one.
Now that you know what to expect when a parent has dementia, it’s time to discuss how to manage a parent with dementia without stepping into the role of caregiver.
How Can I Help My Mother With Dementia Without Becoming Her Caregiver?
What to do if your parent has dementia: Reach out to a geriatric home care company that can help you make informed decisions regarding your aging loved one’s care.
You don’t need to feel guilty about asking for help or acknowledging that you can’t cope with a dementia parent anymore. Caregiving wasn’t meant to be your role. You deserve to be the adult child of an elderly parent, not their caregiver.
As Wisconsin’s premier geriatric care management company, Stowell Associates guides families like yours through the nuances of elder care. Our geriatric home care specialists work hand-in-hand with adult children and spouses to create personalized care plans that cater to the evolving needs of their aging loved ones.
In addition to providing older adults care management, we’ve also partnered with TheKey, a home care company that offers in-home caregiving services for seniors. TheKey’s caregivers are expertly trained to provide memory care for those living with various conditions from mild cognitive impairment to advanced dementia.
You don’t need to worry about what’s happening behind the scenes because our geriatric care managers act as liaison between TheKey and your family. We’ll keep you informed every step of the way. As a team of empathetic elder care professionals, we care about your family like they’re part of ours.
Get in touch with Stowell Associates today to learn more about our care solutions for families of loved ones living with dementia.