Dementia is a very real problem that affects a lot of people as they age. While many of us tend to think of our parents as people who look after us, for many adults, a time comes when our parents need our help as things like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease set in. Looking after a parent with dementia can be very frustrating and difficult, but it is important to remember that despite the mental health issues that can come with aging, your parents are still intelligent people who don’t want to be treated like children.
When Should Parents Stop Living Alone?
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One of the biggest problems for many people is identifying when people are no longer able to live safely by themselves. Many older people value their independence a lot and are reluctant to leave their homes and move in to a nursing home, or move in with other family members. However, when somebody is suffering from dementia, especially when they also have other issues like reduced mobility that come with aging, it isn’t always safe for them to be spending a lot of time unsupervised.
If your parent or parents have been showing signs of forgetfulness, for example not remembering why they have gone into a room, this is a significant red flag that the onset of dementia may be occurring. If they also seem to have trouble remembering normal tasks like cleaning and cooking, or they have trouble remembering the names of people they know, these can also be signs that dementia could be setting in. If you begin to suspect that your parent has the signs of dementia then the most important thing is to get a full medical diagnosis. Doctors can test for dementia and other age related problems, and will be able to help you decide if your parents can live safely on their own.
Preparing Your Home for Dementia Sufferers
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If you have found that your mum or dad is suffering from dementia and have decided to have them move in with you rather than moving into a nursing home, you will need to make sure your house is ready for them. People with dementia value being in familiar surroundings, and so it is likely they will be happy to be staying with you, but the house does need to be easily navigable for someone who is old and has reduced mobility. One of the first things to do is to fit a stairlift. This will make it much easier for your parent to be able to move around the house without being subject to a risk of injury.
Giving your parent their own room which is easy to get to the bathroom from is also important. Older people value their privacy and do not like to feel like they are imposing on you, so having their own space in a room in your house will let them feel that they still have their independence. However, because elderly people do tend to need the bathroom more often than younger people (especially older men with prostate issues), easy access to the toilet is important.
All in all, looking after a parent with dementia is not too complicated, and is something you can do very easily if you have the time and the space. It can be very rewarding to spend more time with your mum or dad, especially in their more lucid moods, and you also have the peace of mind that comes with knowing your parents are being cared for adequately.
Harold Rigby is a professional blogger who regularly writes for sites dealing with retirement, and senior citizens’ lifestyles.