Taking care of a parent with dementia is one of the hardest things you will ever do, but it can also be very special to have good moments with your parent while they still know who you are. When your senior parent has dementia it doesn’t really matter if the dementia is caused by Alzheimer’s , Parkinson’s, or another medical condition. The result is the same. Caregivers often find themselves overwhelmed by the difficulty of taking care of someone with dementia. Whether you are taking care of an aging parent with dementia every day or just checking in from a distance because you live far away keep these tips in mind.
Redirect, Redirect, Redirect
When someone with dementia becomes fixed on something the best thing that you can do is redirect them. Redirection works remarkably well and can spare you a lot of tension and stress. If your aging loved one gets agitated or aggressive redirect them by getting them to focus their attention on something else. If they are sad redirect them to a happy memory. Redirecting their attention to something else is a key tool to use in managing their behavior.
For example, if your senior parent with dementia becomes fixated on the idea of leaving the house at a certain time each day because they used to go to work at that time every day you can redirect them by telling them that they need a coat to go outside and then redirect them to something else entirely. Practice redirection because you will use it every day.
Join Them In Their World
It can be very frustrating both for you and for your parent if you keep trying to orient them in the world where you are when they are living in a totally different world. Instead of trying to get them to understand what you’re saying about something in this world go ahead and redirect them to something else.
For example, if your aging father with dementia wants to know where your mother is but your mother has already passed away don’t tell your father that she is gone every time he asks. That’s just going to upset and hurt him every time. Instead tell him that she’s gone to the store or on a visit and redirect him back to watching TV. If your mother who has Alzheimer’s starts asking why the windows are different on the home because she thinks she’s in her childhood home instead of insisting that she’s not in that home just say that the windows were replaced and that’s why they look different.
Give Yourself A Break
Being a caregiver for an aging parent with dementia is very difficult physically and emotionally. Make sure to give yourself a break with some respite care. A respite caregiver will take over the care of your parent for you so that you can go the store, run errands, or do something for yourself like go get a haircut or even just take a long nap.