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How Dads Can Provide the Best Care for a Parent with Dementia

Paul Banas
Author Paul Banas
Submitted 08-04-2021
parent with dementia

As a parent, you have many responsibilities that revolve around caring for your children, from what they eat to making sure they are healthy. However, not many people think about the fact that one day that these roles might be reversed. Therefore, when you start to see your parents decline and age quickly, it can be quite a shock to many. It can be even more overwhelming when you begin to notice they have signs of dementia. Unfortunately, though, this is a very real scenario that you could find yourself facing. 

When this happens, you might make it your duty to ensure that you are providing the best care possible. However, caring for a parent is hard work. When you are looking after a parent with dementia, it is even harder and can be a challenge to those who aren’t familiar with what they need to do. Fortunately, there are plenty of things that you can do to ensure that your parent is still living the best life possible, and this guide will take you through them. 

Speak to Your Family 

If you have siblings, then the first thing you will need to do is sit down and have a conversation about your parent. If you are an only child, try reaching out to extended family members. Sitting down and talking to your family means the responsibility of caring for your parent won’t just fall on you. You can assess their needs and then come up with a plan of action of how the care will be provided, such as who will help them with shopping, who will take them to doctor’s appointments, and who will take over bill payments. As dementia can affect memory and decision-making, these are all tasks that your parent might find themselves neglecting, and as time goes on, this will likely only get worse. You may find that they start to refuse to do certain actions or tasks and become aggressive about it. Therefore, the more support that you have, the easier it will be to overcome scenarios where they become resistant. It will also ensure that no one person starts to feel the very real burnout that can come from caring for parents. 

Speak to Your Parent 

You might consider including your parent in this conversation if they are in the early stages of dementia. After all, it is their life, and excluding them from it could cause problems further down the line. They will probably be feeling frightened, overwhelmed, or in denial that it is happening. Sitting down with them and talking through it all could put them at ease and reassure them. 

Learn More About Dementia 

There are many types of dementia, so it is vital that you make yourself familiar with the particular form of dementia that your parent has. Although the best place to learn about their specific disease is their doctors, there are plenty of helpful guides online that can help after the consultation. By learning more, you can prepare yourself for what might happen in time to come. In most cases, their condition will advance and become a full-time job for you, but knowing what to expect can make it slightly easier. 

Be Realistic 

As much as you would love to be able to provide full-time care for your parent, in the long-term, this might not always be possible. When you have children of your own, a full-time job, and many responsibilities of your own, trying to care for your parent full time on top of it all, even with your family’s help, can be extremely challenging and stressful. As your parent’s dementia develops too, the job won’t get easier. 

Therefore, it is important to be realistic. If you want to ensure that your parent is still living a good quality of life, and know that you can’t provide this, look into nursing homes that offer dementia care. You can find nursing homes that have dementia suites that can help support and care for your parent. These homes will be dementia-friendly and will ensure that you are kept informed at all times. 

Consider Natural Treatments

Until you reach the point where you feel like you can’t provide the care they need, you might consider helping your parent in other ways. For example, natural treatments won’t stop dementia from developing, but they could provide a solution to help them manage their moods. You could try changing up their diet to ensure that they are getting more vitamin E, as studies have suggested that it could help people with dementia.  

You might also consider other forms of treatment, such as music or pet therapy. Pet therapy could benefit your parent in more ways than one. First, it could have a calming effect on them and improve their mood. It may even decrease their behavioral problems. Plus, it also enables them to increase their physical activity and social interaction. 

Be Patient but also Empathetic 

Just as you need patience when looking after your children, you will need to ensure that you are patient when caring for your parent suffering from dementia. For example, as they get confused easily, trying to have a conversation with them might not be as easy as it once was. They might lose focus, or their mind might wander to another topic of conversation. No matter how long their attention waivers, you should still actively listen and be patient with them. Try talking about other things before coming back to the original discussion. 

If you consider how your parent feels, it is easier to sympathize with them and be patient. Forgetting what they were doing and losing independence can be frightening for them – something that they will try to fight. However, if you can understand that they will be feeling this way, it is much easier to continue to provide care. Even if you take the support of a nursing home, having these skills can ensure that when you visit them, that every visit is good for both you and them. You don’t want the time you spend with them to be of frustration and anger. 

Caring for a parent with dementia can be a massive change in your life, so knowing how to go about it is crucial. Make sure to consider the advice in this blog and never be afraid to ask for help from professionals. 

Authors note: For those living in the western part of the UK, you can find nursing homes in Hertford and beyond at https://www.signature-care-homes.co.uk/communities/bentley-house-in-hertford