Caring for someone with dementia is challenging and can be full of unknowns. It’s even more complicated when it’s your parent or family member.
- Do you know how to deal with dementia in a parent?
- Do you know how to talk to a parent with dementia?
- Do you know how to care for elderly parents with dementia at home?
Don’t let that list of questions about caring for a parent with dementia overwhelm you. Caring for a parent with dementia at home comes with some burdens, but you can also do many things to alleviate the duty of care.
We’ve compiled a list of the top five things you can do to make dealing with a parent with dementia more manageable.
Keep reading to learn more about dementia, how to deal with a family member with dementia, and when to get in-home care for seniors with dementia.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is a general term for memory loss that affects someone’s daily life. Abnormal brain changes cause dementia and trigger a decline in thinking and motor skills. It can also bring about personality changes.
Dementia symptoms may be different from person to person, but common signs include problems with:
- Short-term memory recall
- Keeping track of personal items
- Remembering dates or appointments
- Recognizing locations or familiar places
Dementia can be progressive, meaning it gets worse over time. Signs and symptoms can start slowly and then increase in severity as a person ages.
5 Tips for Caring for Someone with Dementia
Because of the short-term memory loss and the potential for decreased motor function, individuals with dementia need continual attention. These two factors are what make caring for a parent with dementia so taxing.
Here are five expert tips to help you in dealing with a parent with dementia.
Tip #1: Prepare and Research
The first thing you’ll want to do is prepare yourself and do some research.
Take time to read articles, books, or talk with others around you who might be caring for a parent with dementia. You might also be able to find online videos or classes to help with the preparation.
You’ll also want to prepare yourself emotionally and mentally. Write out some memories of your loved one. Take some time to think about who they were and some of the things that they enjoyed. These can help you remember who your loved one is if their personality starts to change.
If possible, plan and prepare ahead of time. Many preliminary resources exist to help you start the journey of caring for your loved one with dementia well.
Tip #2: Make Home Adjustments
Whether your parent is staying in their home or is living with you, you’ll want to make some safety adjustments to living spaces.
Falls can become more common for aging parents regardless of their mental condition. Some things to consider for fall prevention are:
- Replacing (or removing) worn carpet or rugs
- Cleaning clutter
- Making sure stairs are in good condition and covered in no-slip strips
- Securing or installing railways
- Keeping bathrooms dry, installing no-slip strips, and investing in a shower chair
Multiple Items in the House
Aging seniors with dementia will misplace objects or forget where things are. It can be handy to keep duplicates of common household items around the house. Keeping multiples of items in the home can help reduce frustration for all parties involved.
Design and Lighting
Good lighting and contrasting colors are good elements to include for a dementia-friendly house.
Lighting adjustments include:
- Using natural light as much as possible.
- Using table lamps or wall-mounted lights instead of large overhead lights.
- Establishing two times the normal level of lighting.
Contrasting can also help your parent with dementia see things more clearly. An example of contrast is a white plate against a dark table cover. This contrast allows them to see the plate and food more clearly.
The goal is to make sure that your parent’s place of residence is as clean and maneuverable as possible. You may need to make adjustments as care continues, but fall prevention, item accessibility, and lighting are good places to start.
Tip #3: Monitor Physical Changes
A clear sign of dementia is changed mental function. However, as dementia progresses, it can affect a person’s physical condition as well. You’ll want to monitor your parent’s motor function and ability to:
- Dress or bathe
- Eat or drink
- Talk or form thoughts
- Perform simple household chores
Any change in a physical condition will result in an increased level of care. It may also signal a need for more advanced medical supervision.
Tip #4: Care for Yourself
Once you become the primary caregiver for your parent with dementia, you may find yourself burned out or exhausted. Self-care is vital for your well-being and ability to provide care for your parent.
Here are some ideas to help create space for yourself:
- Get other siblings or family members involved in caregiving.
- Schedule a weekly time out with a spouse or friend.
- Set aside time to exercise each week.
An excellent short-term care option is respite care. Respite care involves hiring an in-home caregiver to provide a few hours of care each week. Caregivers can provide companionship to your parent and hands-on care like dressing, transportation, or household chores.
Rest and time away from caregiving will look different for everyone. Finding a way to keep yourself healthy and rested will help you better care for your parent.
Tip #5: Seek Full-time Care
As dementia progresses, the level of care needed for your parent may increase drastically. It’s not uncommon for individuals with dementia to need full-time or 24-hour care.
24-hour care will help your loved one navigate all hours and parts of the day. A caregiver will spend daytime hours assisting with:
- Transportation to and from appointments
- Bill pay
- Household chores (e.g., laundry, cooking)
Caregivers can also provide fun and engaging in-home memory care through games and other activities.
With full-time care, another caregiver will come to you or your parent’s home for the nighttime hours. It’s common for those with dementia to wander at night or even be awake through the night. A nighttime caregiver will stay awake and alert throughout the night. They can assist your parent if they’re prone to wander or stay up with your parent if they can’t sleep.
Getting full-time in-home care for a parent with dementia can be very beneficial for you and your aging parent with dementia.
How to Get In-home Help Caring for a Parent with Dementia
If you find yourself caring for someone with dementia, it’s helpful to be prepared and do some research. You’ll want to make some in-home adjustments for the safety of your loved one. Once care begins, make sure to monitor your parent’s physical condition and also care for yourself. And if caregiving becomes too tough, you can always reach out to an in-home care company.
It’s challenging to know how to care for an elderly parent with dementia, but you don’t have to do it alone—professional help is available.
At Stowell Associates, we have a great deal of experience supporting adult children caring for a parent with dementia at home. Our Care Managers are registered nurses (RNs) and masters-level social workers who can advise you on how to best care for your loved one. All of our Caregivers are highly trained in dementia care and understand what to do if a parent with dementia refuses care. Together, our Care Managers and Caregivers support adult children and their parents as they navigate dementia care.
Contact us today to get firsthand insight into how in-home dementia care can help your aging loved one.