According to the World Health Organization, nearly 50 million people have dementia. It’s now one of the major causes of disability and dependency worldwide.
Early detection can make a big difference in treating and preventing Alzheimer’s and other dementia conditions.
Does your parent seem more forgetful and withdrawn lately? With this guide, you’ll know what to do if you think your parent has dementia. That way, you can give them the support and treatment they need before the disease progresses.
The signs of dementia might appear obvious to you. However, your parent might deny their symptoms and refuse to see a doctor.
Before you determine what can be done for a dementia patient, try to understand it from their point of view.
Realizing you’re forgetting names and faces is terrifying. It can even make a parent feel guilty.
Imagine finding yourself lost and alone in the middle of a grocery store. What if you had no recollection of how you got there? Try to empathize with the fear your parent is experiencing.
They might also experience anosognosia. This refers to the lack of awareness that you have an impairment. In fact, dementia might cause brain damage that causes this symptom.
This would make it difficult for your loved one to understand they have dementia.
Don’t forget to process your emotions, too.
It’s okay to feel anger, sadness, grief, or loss. Instead of hiding these emotions, confront them. This can help you think clearly when determining what to do if you think your parent has dementia.
Some people feel more comfortable in a new situation when they have information and research at hand. Research “what are first signs of dementia” online. Then, make a list of the symptoms you’ve noticed your parent experience.
These can include:
- Memory problems
- Apathy and withdrawal
- Inability to perform everyday tasks
- Reduced concentration
- Personality changes
- Behavior changes
Make note of any changes you’ve noticed in the past two years. Try to list when the symptoms started and how frequently they occur.
However, it’s important not to self-diagnose. Instead, recognizing these symptoms can help you in the next step.
3. See a Doctor
According to Alzheimer’s Disease International, three-quarters of people with dementia have not received a diagnosis.
Try to encourage your parent to see a doctor. It’s important they receive an official diagnosis. That way, you can rule out any other conditions that might cause their symptoms.
When speaking with your parent about seeing a doctor, try to find a space where you’re both comfortable. That way, you can speak clearly and openly with one another.
Start by mentioning some of the symptoms you’ve noticed.
You can also mention specific events, such as a moment your parent forgot your name or their own.
Ask if they’ve felt stressed lately, or if they’ve experienced trouble sleeping. This can help them recognize there is a problem.
When trying to determine what to do if you think your parent has dementia, remember to remain empathetic. That way, it’s easier to respond if your parent is scared or resists seeing a doctor.
If they refuse, try again later. Remember to remain patient.
You can also try using a physical reason (arthritis, back pain, heart health) they should see a doctor.
You can always speak to a medical professional first to get their advice. They may have hands-on experience with similar situations that could help.
4. Offer Assistance
Remind your parent that you’re there to help them.
For example, you can offer to research specialists, book their appointment, or attend the appointment with them. This can help your parent feel like they’re not alone.
If your parent is feeling forgetful, you can also prepare questions to ask the doctor.
This might help them feel a little more in control. Ask for permission beforehand to attend their appointments, too.
5. Make an Action Plan
A personalized action plan can also help your parent feel more in control of the situation.
You and your parent can use this tool to get started.
Now you both have the resources you need to navigate dementia.
You may also want to consider home care services for your parent. That way, you don’t have to worry about them at home alone while you’re at work or taking care of other family members.
6. Find Support
You’re not alone in this. Don’t let your emotions cause you to withdraw from those around you. While dealing with the loss and grief is difficult, don’t let it isolate you from your loved ones.
Instead, join a support group. These groups are made up of other people helping a parent through dementia.
You might benefit from hearing about someone else’s experience. Having someone who understands your situation also gives you the support to navigate your own struggles.
That way, you can learn to manage your emotions with people who understand what you’re going through.
If you need additional support and guidance, consider visiting a professional for counseling support.
7. Take Care of Yourself
You can’t take care of a parent suffering from dementia if you don’t take care of yourself, first.
If you decide to take on the role of caregiver, start by setting realistic expectations.
Do the best you can without feeling you’ve failed due to things that are beyond your control. Instead, make sure to eat right and get enough sleep. Take time for yourself, too.
That way, you can be your best before helping your parent to the best of your abilities.
What to Do If You Think Your Parent Has Dementia
Now that you know what to do if you think your parent has dementia, take action. Your parent might not want to recognize they have dementia, and that’s okay.
For now, try to work through these seven steps. Remember, you don’t have to do it alone. Find a support system who can help you navigate through this course alongside you.
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Newly middle-aged wife of 1, Mom of 3, Grandma of 2. A professional blogger who has lived in 3 places since losing her home to a house fire in October 2018 with her husband. Becky appreciates being self-employed which has allowed her to work from 'anywhere'. Life is better when you can laugh. As you can tell by her Facebook page where she keeps the humor memes going daily. Becky looks forward to the upcoming new year. It will be fun to see what 2020 holds.