Jun 4, 2018 by Michele Berman
As a caregiver, learning your loved one has a form of dementia is heartbreaking. Understanding dementia and coping with it are two different things. It is scary for the caregiver because it means the parent will develop memory and movement issues.
There are also hallucinations that can be terrifying for the parent. Your first reaction is to assure them that you are here for them and to make life as easy as you can. However, this may not be the best way to deal with the problem.
A professional who is trained within the area of dementia care can be by your side through each of the phases either providing assistance or taking full care of your loved one, depending on the home care plan you decide is best for your individual situation.
The first stage of dementia often affects communication and memory. Dementia is more than just forgetfulness. It also creates problems with memory, communication, behavior, hallucinations, and mobility/movement.
Sing a Song to Help with Failing Memory
When a parent has difficulty with short-term memory, a caregiver can sing a song to help them remember things and lower anxiety. Memory issues lead to wandering. There are also memory exercises that interactive caregivers can assist with, such as learning something new or doing puzzles to boost brain power.
If your parent begins to wander, you will need to lock the doors (or add new locks). When at events, you can keep a hand on their arm to provide comfort as well as to prevent wandering.
Signs of Communication Issues
When your parent begins to have communication problems, the signs include:
It is important to speak in calm and gentle voice since people suffering from dementia can pick up high-pitches of voice. You will need to speak slowly because your loved one will not understand you if talk too quickly.
The caregiver feels he or she no longer can connect to their loved one. When the parent is no longer communicating, your presence is even more important. A kiss, hug or pat on the arm provides comfort.
Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior
A person with dementia will not have their “inner critic” anymore. The person will do embarrassing things such as take off a piece of clothing at the most inopportune time, become intimate with a stranger or use foul language.
The person can also get physically aggressive. Do not become angry; your parent does not understand the situation. Simply correct it and move on.
Your loved one will also refuse your help. To cope, you should give them a task to distract their mind while you take care of the main problem. Also, engaging your loved one in an activity he or she is interested in will reduce aggression and passivity.
Use the Three R’s with Hallucinations
People with dementia (i.e., Lewy Body dementia) can experience hallucinations (or delusions). With a hallucination, you cannot dismiss it or become frustrated. To handle the situation, you should use the three R’s: reassure, respond and refocus.
You should reassure your parent that everything is okay. You should state that you are concerned that your parent is upset.
Respond to the situation by trying to understand what your parent experienced. You may find comforting to keep a journal and record the event. You can help your parent move past the hallucination by refocusing on something else, such as drawing the shades or putting on some music.
When a parent suffers from dementia, their gait can be affected. This limited mobility can affect the way they drive (i.e., stopping and reading traffic signs). Driving means independence.
It is a source of many arguments because you are worried about the safety of your parent and those around him or her. To cope, you should have an honest discussion with your parent about it. If they want to remain mobile, you can get them a device to assist him or her (e.g., a walker) or provide transportation.
Seniors start to have more balance problems naturally as time goes on, but with dementia, these problems get worse at a faster rate. When the time comes when your parent should not drive anymore, you will need to take the keys and put them in a secure place. Home care agencies such as Comfort Keepers offer transportation services for your loved one if you are not around to do the driving that day!
We Provide Comfort
At Comfort Keepers, we understand how hard it is to live with a parent who is suffering from dementia. We are always here to provide the guidance you need to ensure a safe and happy home. If your loved one is not suffering from dementia, but they do need in-home care, end of life care, or transitioning home services, we offer those options as well!
If you are a family member and are providers of senior care for your loved one who needs any of the home care services listed above, you will probably need to seek the assistance of our respite care services at some point in time. Feel free to Contact us today at (215) 885-9140 and we will answer all of your questions on senior care!