Do's And Don'ts Of Caring For A Parent Living With Dementia

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According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than 15 million American provide care to loved ones or friends living with dementia. If your parent was recently diagnosed with dementia, you might be considering moving them into your home to ensure they receive quality care in a loving environment. However, it's important to keep in mind that dementia is an insidious disease, and it will take a lot of patience, time, and love to care for your ailing parent. Here are a few simple do's and don'ts for any adult child considering caring for a parent with dementia in their home:

Do Provide Subtle Help with Everyday Tasks

One of the biggest struggles for dementia patients is performing everyday tasks that were once second nature, including brushing their teeth, filling out a check, or even taking a bath. Your first instinct might be to step in and take on these tasks for them. However, this can often cause the patient to feel resentful and ashamed.

Instead, find clever and subtle ways to offer help. For example, if your parent is trying to make a sandwich and is struggling with this task, offer to make both yourself and them a sandwich, if your parent agrees to pick out a movie on television.

It's also critical that you remain patient while performing these tasks for your parent. Remember, if you scold them or expect your parent to complete a task that you consider simple and straightforward, this can cause feelings of shame, and your parent may begin to stop asking for help altogether.

Do Learn How to Handle Your Parent's Aggressive Behavior

Sharing your home with a parent living with dementia can be challenging. Chances are, you anticipated the confusion, memory loss, and the other classic symptoms associated with dementia. However, there is another symptom that you might not have expected: aggression.

Many dementia patients can be both verbally and physically aggressive. The reasons for hostile behavior can be anything from a reaction to a certain medication, confusion, depression, or the dementia's impact on your parent's brain.

If your parent becomes aggressive, it's important to handle the situation correctly. Begin by remaining calm yourself, and avoid becoming angry or physically aggressive. Instead, try to calm down your parent and ask them the reason why they are acting out.

If they cannot verbalize the reason for their aggressive behavior, try to find a distraction. Finally, it's important to allow your parent some space to calm down. Aggression is a common symptom of dementia, so if your parent is becoming verbally or physically abusive, don't hesitate to contact their doctor so the two of you can work together to find the cause of your parent's aggressive behavior.

Don't Forget to Take Care of Yourself

Caring for a parent living with dementia can be physically, emotionally, and mentally overwhelming. Therefore, it's important that you don't completely give up your own life to care for your parent. Instead, don't be afraid to ask for help from a sibling, a friend, or another relative to step in so you can step away from your home and parent.

Hiring a home health professional is another phenomenal way for you to take a break for a few hours. In addition to allowing you to catch your breath, a home health professional can also help monitor your parent's dementia and any other medical conditions.

Dementia is a devastating illness, both for the patient and their caregiver. If you are considering caring for a parent living with dementia, or are already on this journey, there are several do's and don'ts to keep in mind that will help improve your parent's quality of life. To learn about home health care services that can help you to better care for your parent, check out websites like