7 Strategies for Caring for an Elderly Parent with Dementia at Home

By Patricia Schumacher, 9:00 am on

Family members intending to act as caregivers for elderly parents with dementia need to become as informed as possible about the symptoms and types of dementia their loved ones are living with. Being prepared eliminates some of the surprises in terms of behaviors caregivers are likely to encounter. There are a variety of considerations families must keep in mind.

1. Accept Assistance

One family member cannot care for a senior with dementia 24 hours a day unassisted. Families need to develop a support team to run errands or fill in if the primary caregiver becomes ill or simply needs time to rejuvenate. Support groups are ideal for sharing feelings and thoughts while gaining useful information.

Caring for a loved one with dementia is a challenging task for anyone. The responsibilities can sometimes feel overwhelming, but help is available. Seniors can face a variety of age-related challenges. Though some families choose to take on the caregiving duties, there may come a time when they need a trusted Rhode Island at-home care provider. Families sometimes need respite from their duties so they can focus on their other responsibilities, and some seniors need around-the-clock assistance that their families are not able to provide.

2. Be Empathetic

Caregivers must have compassion and empathy for the individuals in their care and remember their loved ones no longer have control over the way they perceive external stimuli or how they react in certain situations. In time, seniors with dementia will no longer be able to tell the difference between day and night, understand time, or realize where they are at the moment.

3. Be Realistic

Understand there will be bad days and good days ahead. Make the best of the happy moments and treasure the memories. Also realize that in most cases, your loved one isn’t going to get better. The disease process will progress, and your loved one’s care needs will increase.

Having a professional caregiver nearby can give you peace of mind about your loved one’s safety and comfort. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same in-home care. Families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.

4. Remain Patient

An older adult with dementia may resist care, refuse assistance, and exhibit a variety of negative behaviors. He or she may become angry, depressed, aggressive, and hurtful. Regardless of the situation, you must remain calm and speak in a soothing, soft voice. Avoid arguing or belittling your parent, as the added anger and frustration only adds fuel to the fire. Try diverting your parent’s attention to another room or a different activity.

5. Ensure Safety

As dementia progresses, your parent’s sleep cycle may become disrupted. He or she may begin wandering at night when you or other family members are sleeping. Install locks high on doors out of your loved one’s reach. Perhaps install motion detectors near doors and windows to alert the family if your loved one tries to leave the home.

6. Provide Enjoyable Activities

An older person living with dementia may become bored. Encourage your parent to participate in a variety of activities. Take walks together. Help your parent maintain a garden. Do basic exercises to music together. Any physical activity boosts cardiovascular health, which in turn nourishes the brain. Play cards or a board game with your loved one. Bake or cook together. Perhaps your loved one once enjoyed working on crafts, so try getting him or her interested in some form of creative activity.

7. Understand the Symptoms

Although dementia is most often equated with memory loss, the type of dementia your loved one has will likely determine the symptoms he or she exhibits. Older adults with frontotemporal dementia or Pick’s disease often retain memory but experience personality changes and may display behaviors that are out of character for the people they once were. Some aging adults with dementia also experience neurological symptoms.

Dementia can be challenging for seniors to manage, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. Rhode Island seniors can benefit greatly from the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program designed to promote cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. CTM is included at no additional charge with any of the in-home care plans provided by Home Care Assistance. Trust Home Care Assistance to provide high-quality compassionate, professional care for your loved one. If your loved one needs help with the challenges of aging, call one of our compassionate Care Managers today at (401) 284-0979.