When a loved one—especially a parent—is dealing with dementia, it can be an extremely challenging and emotional journey trying to help. Since this condition is progressive, their cognitive health can change, making it essential to know how to approach their situation with compassion and care.
Practicing patience is crucial when interacting with a dementia-afflicted parent due to their communication challenges. Establishing a structured routine and emphasizing the importance of socialization can also be beneficial.
These strategies and the help offered by a memory care community are excellent ways to approach a parent’s dementia and can help you improve their quality of life.
What Is Dementia?
Dementia is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder. It affects a person’s memory, cognitive function, and ability to complete their daily tasks. However, dementia itself isn’t a singular disease—it’s a blanket term for many neurodegenerative disorders that cause extremely similar symptoms, like Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of memory impairment.
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for this condition. While there are treatments designed to minimize symptoms and the effect of dementia on a person’s life, there is no known way to completely stop it from progressing.
What Challenges Does Dementia Cause?
Since dementia is progressive, symptoms often get worse over time. It eventually can lead to issues like:
- An inability to communicate
- Disjointed thought patterns
- Irrational behavior
- Paranoia or hallucinations
- Severe memory loss
As it affects a person’s mind, dementia can lead to many challenges. It becomes more difficult for a person to communicate, and it can often seem like their judgement is severely impaired. In some situations, seniors may wander or completely forget where they are, which can cause all sorts of challenges.
In situations like this, memory care becomes an excellent option. These are communities where professional caregivers provide seniors with dementia with a structured, supportive, and safe environment to help them maintain their quality of life.
How to Support a Parent with Dementia
Knowing the basics of dementia is one of the most important ways to support a parent dealing with this condition, as it helps you understand what’s happening to them. This can help you empathize with their condition and support them in a way that can make living with this condition more manageable.
There are a few things that can be extremely helpful when dealing with a parent who has dementia, including:
- Structure and routine
- The benefits of socialization
By remembering these things, you can support your parent and help keep your relationship with them strong.
The Importance of Patience When a Loved One Has Dementia
Caring for a loved one with dementia can be challenging, even if it is a rewarding experience. Communication problems can be frustrating for everyone involved, so it’s important to consider where your parent is coming from. They may be forgetting words or having difficulty remembering what the conversation is about.
It can help to practice active listening and let them take the time to communicate their thoughts. If they forget what they’re talking about, try gently reminding them. It can help to use visual aids to stimulate a conversation or help them remember what they’re talking about.
They’re likely experiencing frustration if they’re having difficulty communicating clearly with you. Giving them the time and support they need can make them feel much more comfortable, respected, and safe speaking with you.
How Routine Benefits Seniors with Dementia
One of the side effects caused by dementia is the frustration, anxiety, and unpredictability of daily life. Fortunately, this can easily be countered by building a proper routine and schedule. Whether daily, weekly, or monthly, a proper schedule offers many benefits:
- It can reduce frustration day-to-day
- It gives your loved one something to look forward to
- It reduces the unpredictability of their life
By creating a stable, supportive, and structured environment, you can help boost your parent’s quality of life by giving them a sense of regularity.
Socialization and the Link to Cognitive Health
Socializing isn’t just a way to catch up with your parent and share stories—it’s closely linked to cognitive health and function.
When you speak with your parent, they use many parts of their brain. For example, when recalling a story or event, they flex the part of their brain that uses memory. When conversing with you, they use their problem-solving capabilities and the parts of the brain that help understand language.
Socialization, whether with you, other residents, or the staff in memory care, is an excellent way to help your loved one keep their communication skills strong. And it can even help keep them happy and entertained, allowing them to share laughter and happiness with the people around them.
The Importance of Professional Care
Caring for a loved one with dementia can be rewarding, but that doesn’t make it easy. Sometimes, you may need to ask for help—and that’s okay. This is when memory care can be an excellent option.
These communities are staffed with a trained and experienced team to help your loved one with their everyday life. It gives your parent access to caring staff who are well-versed in the complications often caused by dementia, helping them to maintain a high quality of life and giving you a break from full-time caregiving.At Highland Senior Living, our team is here to help you and your parent ease the transition to memory care. To learn more about our community, schedule a tour with us today.