Your parent’s memory is declining a bit more each day. While some days are better than others, your mom might be forgetting how to perform routine tasks like how to put on shoes, or perhaps your dad can’t remember your name. Providing dementia care to a loved one with memory problems can be a daunting task.
How discouraging it feels to be unable to help the ones we love the most.
You’re not as powerless as you might think! There are things you can do to help your aging loved one be happy, safe and as independent as possible. Read three tips now that will help you care for a parent with memory impairments:
Dementia Causes Irritability and Aggression. Don’t Take It Personally.
Your mother threatened to punch you if you don’t leave her alone because she felt defenseless and unable to express her wants, needs, and feelings. Much like a young child, people with memory impairments need reassurance, constant reminders and an unending supply of patience from caregivers.
Mood swings, anger outbursts and tearful episodes that seem to come out of nowhere are a normal part of disease progression. This isn’t your fault – keep reminding yourself of this truth during stressful occasions that involve unpredictable behavior.
Dementia Causes Confusion. Get Visual and Redirect.
You’ve arrived back at home with your father after his doctor’s appointment. You pull into the driveway, and he yells, “Stop, this isn’t my house!” Remember – Your family member is confused because progressive damage to his cognitive functioning has occurred. Keep your language simple, include a picture, and he might relax.
Have visual references always on hand that include family members, memorabilia, and possessions. You can pull these pictures out during stressful times when your loved one is disoriented. A visual image might bring him back to the present and pull him out of confusion.
Keep your explanations brief and redirect!
After you provide a visual cue that sparks a moment of clarity – move on and change the subject. Say something entirely unrelated to what confused your loved one in the first place: “Hey daddy, let’s go inside and watch your favorite show!” This statement will have a much better outcome than a lengthy explanation about how this has been his home for the past thirty years. Too many details will only further confuse him.
Dementia Causes Poor Judgment. Offer Reassurance to Boost Confidence.
It’s not uncommon for someone with Alzheimer’s to put on a short sleeve shirt and shorts in twenty-degree weather with intentions of a walk outside. Deterioration of brain cells is causing your parent to show poor judgment in everyday tasks.
Delusions and false beliefs are a typical part of the disease process – don’t try to correct or prove your parent wrong – you can’t!
Instead, focus on what you can do. Offer encouraging statements that foster a sense of accomplishment and promote independence. Don’t say “Mama, You can’t go out like that – you’ll freeze to death!” She’ll feel embarrassed and even more determined to go outside.
Try saying, “Excellent choice of comfortable clothes for an outdoor walk! Let’s bring along this jacket in case you catch a chill.” This is an empowering statement that will lift her up, keep her mood positive and impart confidence. Avoid power struggles and arguments. She’ll likely ask for her jacket the moment she steps out into the cold.
Feeling uncertain of how to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia is normal. “What do I say?” “How do I say it?” and “Am I doing the right things to help?” are just a few of the questions caregivers ask themselves.
Children often feel guilty about putting a parent in a senior living facility because they think it’s their responsibility to provide full and absolute care. That’s not true.
Your parent needs assistance but also wants to keep her independence. Stop feeling like you have to be the nurse, cook, maid, and personal assistant to be a “good child.” You’re not a bad caregiver by acknowledging that it’s a lot of work to care for a parent with dementia.
When you decide to begin looking into senior living facilities you’re also creating possibilities that will drastically improve your loved one’s life. Take the first step.
Sometimes it might be best to look for senior living care that’s been in the business of offering affordable and comfortable housing to seniors that need medical and personal care assistance. We’ve built a solid reputation of providing compassionate service that promotes independence for as long as possible.
Ryan Jackson is the SEM/SEO Manager for Landmark Senior Living. Ryan brings expertise in helping individuals treat dementia and Alzheimer’s care from a scientific standpoint. He graduated from Arizona State University where he found his passion for helping people and his love for writing. Ryan also enjoys playing golf, reading blogs, and anything that has to do with helping people.