A man comforting his father while sitting on a bed

When a parent is diagnosed with dementia, it can be a rather difficult time for a family. Fortunately, there are many ways in which you can help your loved one overcome this diagnosis and live out the rest of their life in comfort. 

Occasional forgetfulness may not be a sign of early dementia. Although, if you notice dramatic changes in a parent’s health, it may be time to address it by speaking to them and their doctor about your concerns. A parent with memory loss and dementia may require personalized care

The article will outline how to interact with a parent after receiving their diagnosis, deal with different stages of dementia, and cope with emotional stressors. 

About Dementia

Dementia is a group of brain disorders that interfere with cognitive function and memory in patients. Abnormal brain changes affect behavior and personality as well. 

There is no cure for dementia; however, there are treatments to help with memory loss and confusion. Medications can help with other symptoms, including behavior changes, and help protect the brain. 

Age and family history are common factors that increase the risk of developing dementia. Risk increases as you get older. The majority of people with dementia are 65 years and over

There are several types of dementia based on the cause of damage to the nerve cells in the brain:

  • Alzheimer’s: occurs because of specific changes to the brain. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60–80% of cases. 
  • Vascular dementia: occurs from a lack of blood flow to the brain, as in the case of a stroke. 
  • Lewy body dementia: occurs due to the accumulation of Lewy bodies, a protein also known as alpha-synuclein in the brain. 
  • Fronto-temporal dementia: is believed to occur because of abnormal proteins called Pick bodies. 
  • Mixed dementia: occurs when a person has more than one type of dementia, in which case, progression is faster. 
  • Reversible dementia: caused by the side effects of vitamin deficiency, medications, thyroid hormone imbalance, including others. These make up 20% of causes.  

A man talking to grandparent who has dementia and holding hands

The Different Stages of Dementia

Dealing with dementia in a parent is challenging as they go through the 3 phases. Knowing which stage helps you understand how to cope with their behavior and as the condition progresses. 

During each stage of the disease, there will be different problems and different solutions to approach those problems. The following list outlines what to expect from each one.

Stage 1: Early

Also known as mild decline, your parent will still be able to remember most of their memories from before the disease set in and do everyday tasks. However, they may experience some confusion about recent events. 

The key is to reassure them that everything is fine and prevent unnecessary stress on both sides. Listen to them attentively and let them maintain control of their everyday activities. You may also wish to learn more about the condition, find support, and talk to your family, friends, and doctor. 

Stage 2: Middle

Also known as moderate decline, your parent may begin to lose short-term memory and not remember things from only a few minutes before. It can be extremely frustrating with denial of symptoms and loss of independence.

Your main job during this stage is to switch to a caregiver if possible. Maintain a routine for hygiene, grooming, eating, and activities. Create to-do lists and reminders. Have patience, take time for yourself, and have a reliable support system.

Stage 3: Late

Also known as severe decline, your parent will have trouble remembering loved ones’ names, using the restroom, or eating independently. They lose the ability to tell time, know where they are, walk or talk. All these usually happen when dementia has progressed very far. 

Create a calm environment and safe space for your parent. You may have to consider full-time care or respite care at this stage. Spend as much time with your parent as you can, and not forget to live your life. 

We Have You Covered at Barton House

Caring for and dealing with dementia in a parent is both rewarding and challenging. There are many different stages of dementia that you and your parent may encounter while going through the disease. 

Understanding the condition and support from family, friends, and specialized care will ensure they live the rest of their lives in comfort. Contact Barton House to find out how we can meet the specific needs of a parent with dementia.