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Stepping into the role of caregiver to a parent with dementia is one of the most challenging things we can be faced with as an adult. But being armed with the right resources and tips can help make the process less stressful.
Unfortunately, dementia is impossible to predict, and care can become more and more difficult as the condition progresses. On top of dealing with our parent’s confusion, loss of memory and general decline, we’re also coping with our own feelings about our aging parents. The loss of the person you once knew and a new normal to adapt to, it can become a whirlwind of complex emotions with no simple solution.
Still, there are a few things you can do to make care easier and provide the support a parent may need during such a challenging time. From investing in helpful tools to reaching out to organizations for support, these tips will help ease the experience of caring for a loved one with dementia.
1. Switch to Adaptive Clothing — Getting dressed is one of the toughest challenges of the day, but adaptive clothing is a smart solution. This kind of clothing is easier to navigate with easy-to-maneuver fasteners, making self and assisted dressing less of a chore. For example, our men’s elastic waist pants have no fasteners whatsoever making it easy to navigate the dressing process. Whereas other pieces have magnetic buttons or tearaway designs making it possible for the wearer to still be involved. These items can help our parents maintain a sense of dignity when getting dressed and helps to maintain some independence during their daily routine.
2. Think About Our Parent’s Safety — In addition to cognitive issues like loss of memory and confusion, dementia can be physical, causing loss of balance and increased unresponsiveness. With this in mind, slips and falls are a lot more common. Making sure the environment in safe becomes super important. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends safeguarding your parents with a range of helpful suggestions, including:
Using appliances with automatic shut-off features
Discarding all toxic plants, chemical cleaners and decorative fruits that could be mistaken for real food
Making sure all hallways and walkways are well-lit
Removing all tripping hazards
Keeping all medications in a locked drawer or cabinet
Installing grab bars in the bathroom
Making sure all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order
Having your loved one wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace at all times
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3. Seek Support Wherever You Can — Support groups, medical professionals and agencies for aging can all provide the information you need to provide the proper support to your loved ones. Some of the best places to find support for aging parents includes:
- His or her primary care physician
- The Administration on Aging (AoA)
- Your local agency or department on aging
- Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), if your parent is a veteran or the spouse of a veteran
- The Alzheimer’s Association
- The Family Caregiver Alliance
We also need to make sure we’re seeking out support for ourselves as the caregivers and talking through feelings as they arise. The role of child-to-parent caregiver can take an emotional toll, so just make sure you’re keeping your own mental health in mind as well. Also, know that you may be able to get paid as a family caregiver through various programs to help alleviate some of the financial burdens.
4. Keep Communication Clear and Direct — When communicating with any person with any mental decline, it’s important that you speak in a manner that’s clear and direct to avoid confusion or miscommunication. Ask simple yes or no questions and make sure there are minimal distractions when trying to have a serious conversation. At the same time, it’s important that we maintain empathy and don’t come off as demeaning while communicating information.
5. Make a Plan — While the progression of dementia varies widely from one person to the next, many people experience worsening symptoms as time goes on. Being realistic about the condition and making a plan for the future — whether that means transitioning into a full-time care role or discussing moving into a care facility — is an important part of the process. On top of that, having a day-to-day plan and a routine is important to helping our parents thrive when they are experiencing cognitive decline.
Silverts is a reliable resource for helping people care for their aging parents. In addition to offering high-quality men’s and women’s adaptive clothing to simplify dressing, we also offer plenty of helpful resources and support as you navigate the confusing world of caregiving.