Dementia comes in many forms. When our parents start to forget things, it can be easy to just consider it a part of aging. However, a parent with dementia can become belligerent and unkind. They can also become a hazard to themselves and to you. To keep everyone safe and as healthy as possible, you will need help.
Work With Their Physicians
If you notice a parent becoming more disconnected from reality, a physical may be in order. There are many illnesses that can have dementia-like symptoms as a side effect. Do your best to get your loved one assessed for conditions that can lead to fever, dehydration, or balance problems if you notice any mumbling, stumbling, or walking with hands outstretched. A urinary tract infection can be easily treated, but a fall can be fatal.
Use Outside Observers
For those who care for aging parents at home, consider bringing in help. Services like Nanny Pak can make it easier to manage the household. These services also offer observations that you may miss. If you see your parents every day, gradual decline may be hard to see. An in-home caregiver who stops in once a week may be able to see these changes more easily and give you a heads up of a large decline in cognition, balance, or other factors related to dementia.
Know When to Step Back
An in-home caregiver can also give you a break. For many adults, their workload can include home, career, children, and parents. At some point, something will have to give or you will burn out. Bringing in help before frustration, exhaustion, and despair sets in can protect you and your loved ones from regrettable words and a tense, uptight physical manner.
Strive for the Positive
Your parents may become belligerent and stubborn. From their perspective, you may be interfering with their lives, bossy and intrusive. As possible, focus on activities they can still do, ask them for help, be direct but kind, and offer either or choices instead of asking open-ended questions.
Being quick and efficient may work in many aspects of your life, but your parents will not tolerate being rushed. Understand that your actions and activities will need to slow down to keep them calm. Once they start resisting, your day will come to a full stop, so try not to push.