How to Help a Parent with Dementia
Dementia is a common reason people seek advice from us at AgingParents.com.
Dementia is a general term that applies to a primary symptom of brain impairment. It is often used interchangeably with the most common kind of dementia, found in Alzheimer's Disease. Many people have difficulty understanding dementia and what it does to a person's brain. They may find it very painful to accept that a parent has dementia.
We work with many families and elders who have dementia, whether their dementia has been formally diagnosed or not. Sometimes the symptoms of dementia, such as memory loss, confusion, trouble recognizing familiar objects or difficulty with words can come on so slowly that family members do not recognize how seriously their parent is impaired.
Addressing The Family’s Pain
We help families address the pain they feel and the profound changes that their loved ones go through when dementia affects their elders. Usually, by the time the family contacts us, something has gone wrong as a result of the dementia in their loved one. It can be that someone has financially abused their parent. It can be that Dad is in danger living alone but is refusing help. It can be that Mom won't give up the checkbook, even if she is not able to understand it any longer and is forgetting to pay her bills.
Keeping The Elder Safe
One of our main purposes in working with families who have a parent with dementia is to keep the elder safe. We do that by educating families in our consultations about what action they need to take. It may be having a successor trustee take over managing the finances and teaching them the steps to take. It may be planning for getting homecare for the elder, and explaining the options available, the costs and the reasons why one might choose one type of care over the other. It may be explaining the legal rights of the elder and the family under the circumstances. It may be guiding the family to end the way things used to be and showing them how to start a new and safer way of day-to-day living for someone who has this impairment.
Frequently, we focus on planning ahead, because dementia is relentlessly progressive and there is, at this time, no cure. We do not even have effective ways to slow the progress of disease. Therefore, it is pressing for families to look at the legal and healthcare picture and to understand the next steps. We show families those steps and how to avail themselves of community resources that can help.
Source of Competent Information, Guidance and Support
We serve as a source of competent information, a source of guidance and support and a source of referrals to other reliable professional resources in their aging loved one's area. For family members whose parent with dementia is far away, we teach them how to be effective distance caregivers. Most people do not know where to start. We can help them put a solid plan in place for moving forward.
Families are sometimes in disagreement about how impaired their parent with dementia actually is. We help them by providing data, if this is appropriate. We offer psychological testing, through Dr. Davis, to give objective information as to how their elder performs on a few standardized tests, as compared with others of the same age and educational level. This information can be very useful in settling basic questions about the degree of impairment the parent may be suffering from. It serves the family as they plan ahead for where the elder will be best cared for and what tasks in the elder's life should be handled by others.
We are the place to go to get questions about both the legal and health implications of dementia answered in one place.
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