Coping With A Parent Who Has Dementia

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Dementia is a cruel disease that leaves many thousands of families in turmoil each year. Not only does it affect the person with the diagnosis, but it also turns their loved one’s lives upside down too. Watching your loved ones change gradually is sad – when the loved one is your parent, it’s devastating. All of a sudden you find yourself in the position of being a parent to your mother or father. Learning to cope with this transition is paramount to your wellbeing and sanity, there are several steps that you can take to make looking after your mom or dad with dementia a little easier for all involved.

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Be patient

Although it may be frustrating at times, hearing the same sentence multiple times, you must be patient. Taking yourself away from the situation by having a step outside or going to make some hot cocoa, refresh and reset you. Remember that your loved one doesn’t understand that they are repeating themselves, and try to redirect conversation rather than shut it down. Use what your loved one is saying and stem off from this to a new subject.  As your loved one’s brain becomes more affected, they will lose abilities and inhibitions. This often leads to complicated, and previously unseen, behavior. This can also be hard to manage, so it’s essential that you seek help from the correct places to prevent letting off steam in a way in which may cause distress for your loved one.

Accept help

Many adult children do not like the thought of their parent being looked after by someone else and take on the sole responsibility themselves. If you are living with your mom or dad with dementia, it would be extremely beneficial to you both to consider contacting aged care facilities to see if they offer a respite service. Even once or twice per month can make a huge difference, so you can take some much needed time for yourself. If you do not live with your loved one, you can still often find yourself in despair and guilt, and it is vital to talk to someone you trust about this. For you to be most helpful to your mom or dad, you have to be mentally, physically and emotionally ‘well’ too. If somebody offers you help to sit with your loved one for an hour while you go to the store, accept graciously, and do it!

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Roles have reversed; instead of your mom or dad worrying about your safety, you are worrying about their safety. Dementia often causes people to get confused and wander, leading to people getting lost. This terrifying situation could be made a little better by attaching a GPS tracker to your loved one, so you can locate them and find them if needed. Alarming the doors is also a good idea, to alert you before they even get to the street. If your mom or dad are at an increased risk of getting lost, it’s also an excellent idea for them to have alert bracelets on with all of their details on, as well as yours.

Caring for a parent with dementia can be extremely demanding. You love them dearly and want to do what is best for them, but you must also take care of yourself. Following these steps can help, but if in doubt – ask for help. You absolutely deserve it.


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