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Compassionate Caregiver: Helping a Parent Cope Emotionally With the Early Stages of Dementia

Caregivers in Franklinton, NC

Hearing the diagnosis that your elderly loved one has dementia can be one of the most upsetting and stressful experiences you can have as a family caregiver. While you are coping with your own difficult emotions related to this diagnosis, however, you must remember that your parent is also dealing with the reality that they have been diagnosed with a progressive disease that will have extensive and potentially devastating consequences for their cognitive and physical health and functioning throughout the rest of their life. Being a truly compassionate caregiver in this situation means acknowledging what your aging parent is going through and helping them to cope as they move through the early stages of their disease so they can maintain the highest quality of life possible.

Many people have the idea that a person with dementia does not understand what is happening or what the disease may mean for his future. While this may be true for seniors who have already progressed through the earliest stages of the disease, many elderly adults who only have mild to moderate dementia are fully aware of their confusion and memory lapses, and have the capacity to understand that their condition is only going to get worse. This can lead to a variety of extremely stressful emotional responses. Helping your parent to approach these emotional responses and cope with them effectively protects his quality of life, supports ongoing activity and engagement, and ensures you and his doctor can work together to create an effective and beneficial course of management and treatment that you can change as the disease progresses.

Use these tips to help your parents cope emotionally during the early stages of dementia:

  • Do not ignore it. Even if the doctor has said that your parent is facing only mild symptoms of dementia, avoid the temptation to ignore the situation or pretend that it does not exist. This can make your parent feel like they are alone in their journey, increasing feelings of isolation and anxiety. Instead, confront it openly and be willing to talk about it with them.
  • Share emotions. Be open about how you are feeling about the diagnosis, and encourage your aging loved one to open up about his emotions as well. Denial is normal in these early stages, but offering support and nurturing that allows your parent to step past their denial and into acceptance reduces the emotional strain and allows them to live a higher quality of life.
  • Validate Them. Remind your elderly loved one that they are what matters to you, and that the disease has not stopped that. Many seniors feel like dementia becomes their identity, which reduces their quality of life and can lead to a loss of motivation that can cause more rapid cognitive and physical decline.
  • Start planning for care. You have no real way of knowing how quickly your parent’s dementia will progress, or what types of challenges they will face. All you know is that they will face progressive challenges. Be ready for whatever the future holds by planning care now. Introduce a referred caregiver, start modifying the house, and talk to their doctor about diet and activity changes to help them stay healthier and better functioning as the disease progresses. This can help him feel more secure and confident, as well as more in control of the disease.

The articles posted on this blog are provided for general information and discussion purposes only.  These articles are not intended to suggest anything with respect to the operations or services of this office.

If you or an aging loved one are considering non-medical in-home care in Raleigh, NC, call Griswold Home Care and speak to one of our caring staff members today. Call (919) 229-8944