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We don’t like to think of our parents as elderly individuals with more niggles than when they were younger, with more gray hair and with a tendency to be forgetful. We endeavor to keep them young in our minds. We remember the times we went on holiday together, when our parents were active and spritely. However, there comes a time when our age catches up with us. Our parents will eventually need to slow down, take it easier and lean on us for a little more support. Things can get tougher when dementia is thrown into the mix. Dementia can make individuals struggle with memory, see them repeating the same question numerous times, have trouble completing everyday tasks and experience drastic personality changes. This can be hard on family and caregivers. However, there are actions you can take to make the situation more bearable for all.

Communication

While you elderly parent may not be able to communicate with you in the same way as when they were younger, and this can be distressing for you, this doesn’t mean you have to shut down. If your mom or dad no longer talks, try and watch out for their non-verbal cues. Continue to talk to them, albeit slower and louder, so they can still hear your voice. Ensure that you remain on their level and don’t stand over them as this can be intimidating. If they become irritable or they talk about a memory from years ago, don’t try and change the topic. Allow them to chat with you, encourage their dialogue and try to maintain a happy demeanor. Any negative vibe that you exude will be felt.

Emotions

People with dementia can suffer rampant mood swings. Even the most relaxed individual can become irritable and overreact. They may physically lash out. This can be devastating for you if you witness your parent going through such trauma. Consider researching all local therapy resources & providers to support both you and your parent. They can empower you with strategies to cope and look after yourself.

If your elderly parent has low self esteem and is exhibiting signs of depression because of their dementia diagnosis, encourage them to join a social group. Meeting people going through the same situation can help boost their confidence and may help them cope with their dementia a little easier.

Often those sufferers who shout out, hit or become moody are struggling to communicate. These are sometimes secondary symptoms to not being understood rather than the dementia itself. Imagine not being able to communicate with your family and then not having anyone cater for your needs. Frustration can set in. It’s vital that you show that you care and value their needs. Try to work out what it is that they want and need and facilitate this as much as possible.

Dementia can be a devastating diagnosis. However, by following this guide, you can arm yourself with strategies that will help you and your parent work through dementia together.

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