Seeing your parents age is a reality that most people don’t want to envision. Caring for an aging parent who has Alzheimer’s or Dementia can be devastating and emotionally draining. It is so important to ask for help.
My husband’s mother was diagnosed with Dementia a few years ago. Her diagnosis and behavior is a little different then what I was familiar with. She remembers the family, she remembers past times, but day to day things she most often cannot remember. She suffers from paranoia, hallucinations, & illusions.
A few years ago, we first started noticing unusual behaviors when she would forget where she put her purse, keys, eyeglasses, money, checkbooks etc. She would accuse someone of stealing these items from her and it started to become a daily routine. Only later, we would find that these items were tucked away in hiding places. Living almost three hours away and keeping an eye on her for her safety was becoming more and more difficult. For a long period there when these behaviors escalated, she was still living home alone. We were concerned she would leave a stove on or a gas heater. She still owned a car, and we just knew it was not safe for her to be behind a wheel of a car even though she was determined to drive.
After much legal counsel and process, she was placed in a nursing home Summer of 2016. It was a difficult decision for the families and so much has changed for her and for us during this transition. We have learned so much over the last few years with the transition of her diagnosis and care that she needed.
- Related: Dementia Symptoms and Causes
Seek Legal Advice
First things first, it is super important to discuss and develop an action plan with your parents in their early ages, especially about their future care before they get ill. This may require a Power of Attorney, Living Will, or Conservatorship. If you wait until they become ill then you will run into problems seeking the care they need. It took us almost two years to get the care she needed and have a court-ordered conservatorship. Only because after they receive a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or Dementia, it can be difficult in regards to signing legal documents stating they give family permission to make decisions for them.
Lots of patience
When caring for an aging parent with Dementia or Alzheimer’s patience is super important. You can’t expect them to understand what’s going on. Which means that every step you take will have to be well thought out. You don’t know what they are going to remember, so it’s even more important to show grace and patience while caring for them. Also, if you discuss with them of their diagnosis of having Alzheimer’s or Dementia they may get very defensive. We only felt it was best to not discuss her diagnosis with her after we learned the hard way. Most of them deny it anyways and it only makes them get upset.
An aging parent who has Dementia or Alzheimer’s is going through a lot of changes. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to educate yourself. Try and understand what is going through the mind of someone who has Dementia or Alzheimer’s. I know it can be tough to wrap your brain around.
Try to Focus
Caring for an aging parent with Dementia or Alzheimer’s will require a lot of focus. It’s easy for someone with Dementia to get distracted. Your job will be to try and get them to focus as much as possible. You may want to turn off all distractions in order to try and get the person to focus. Also, try and speak slowly so they know what you’re saying.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
Although my mother in law is in a nursing home, we spend as much time as we can with her. Something you should know about caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is that you cannot do it alone. It is so important to ask for help. It truly takes a trained professional to care for someone that requires special attention. You are dealing with something that is bigger than yourself, so never take matters into your own hands.
Keep Things Simple
Imagine your mind slowly warping into something you don’t recognize. When caring for an aging parent with Dementia or Alzheimer’s, keep thing simple. You may have to repeat yourself or even break down the steps that may be too complicated.
- Other Related Articles: Tips for Being A Caretaker: Making The Most Of It