As your parent ages, it’s good to check for signs of dementia. While certain changes in your parent could be related to normal aging, it’s possible that some of them are experiencing early signs of dementia. Discovering dementia in its early phases helps you be proactive before the dementia gets worse.
We hope you find the following information on how to help a parent with dementia helpful. If you’re wondering how to move a parent with dementia to assisted living, we’re happy to provide guidance at Daystar Retirement Village in Seattle, Washington.
Early Signs of Dementia Test
How do I know if my parent has dementia? If this is the question on your mind, you’re probably noticing signs and symptoms that are different from your parent’s norm. It’s not always easy to know if a person has dementia, as the signs can initially be similar to normal aging. Even physicians may need to perform numerous tests to confirm that it is dementia.
Use the following list as a frame of reference for whether your parent could have dementia.
Early Signs of Dementia Checklist
Is your parent:
- Regularly forgetting things or having trouble learning something new?
- Forgetting simple words or using words that don’t make sense in the context?
- Not recognizing once-familiar places or knowing the time or day of the week?
- Forgetting how to do everyday things, such as getting dressed or making dinner?
- Putting items away in strange places?
- Losing interest in people and activities they once cared about?
- Experiencing significant mood changes?
- Having difficulty understanding the meaning behind numbers and symbols?
- Showing poor decision-making regarding their health and safety?
- Acting differently than their once-normal self?
It’s common for aging people to sometimes be forgetful or to change a bit from when they were younger. But the signs of dementia tend to be more consistent and significant, rather than a forgetful moment.
If you think you notice early signs of dementia, you may want to have your parent’s physician perform diagnostic tests for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. The doctor may send your parent to specialists, and testing could include a physical exam, a neurological exam, mental cognitive status tests, and other diagnostics.
How to Talk to a Parent With Dementia
If it seems likely that your parent has dementia, the next step is to talk to your parent and plan the path ahead. This stage may include difficult conversations and stress over how to care for your parent. You may even experience a parent with dementia in denial or a parent with dementia who refuses help, such as refusing to move into assisted living. You’ll need to consider whether caring for your parent with dementia at home is possible or whether it would be best to move your parent to assisted living, memory care or a skilled nursing facility, depending on the stage your parent is in and the level of care they require.
We understand that it is difficult trying to figure out how to deal with a parent with dementia. But keep in mind that recognizing the signs as early as possible makes the planning process easier. You can also help your parent get early senior dementia care to manage the problem as much as possible.
When you’re ready to talk to your parent about dementia and creating a plan for their care, remember that the problem may be impacting their ability to understand and communicate. Here are some tips to help guide the process:
- Be at eye level and within earshot, making it as easy as possible for your parent to see and hear you.
- Stay calm during discussions.
- Talk slower than normal and in a clear, simple manner.
- Treat your parent like an adult rather than a child.
- Avoid interrogating your parent, but instead, have a back-and-forth conversation.
- Have patience, and give time for your parent to think and respond.
- Consider pausing the conversation and picking it up again at another time, if needed.
At Daystar, our senior care experts are here to help you navigate through any problems if you’re struggling to talk to your parent about dementia and senior living.
The Importance of Legal Capacity and Dementia
One of the areas you’ll want to plan with your parent is that of legal capacity. Your parent may be able to participate in creating legal plans if they are in the early stages of dementia and still have capacity. Generally, your parent has the legal capacity to carry out plans if he or she understands the documents. As early as possible, you should plan out legal documents such as:
- A living will
- Power of attorney
- A last will and testament
- Other important legal documents
As the adult child, you may become your parent’s power of attorney if that is what is decided among you and your family members. In this case, your parent could name you as the person who could make financial and other decisions for them when they are no longer able to make those decisions. You could also become a power of attorney for healthcare so you could make healthcare decisions for your parent as well. Ideally, talk to a lawyer about how to get power of attorney for a parent with dementia, it’s typically an easy process if done before any mental deterioration. And note that elder law is the legal specialty to seek out.
Activities for Senior Citizens with Dementia
Another way to help your parent is to encourage them to take part in activities that will help their health and well-being. For example, mind-focused games and senior journaling can help support memory. Social support could also help improve your loved one’s mental health if they are currently isolated.
At Daystar Retirement Village, we provide activities and senior care through assisted living, which could help your parent before they are ready for more advanced levels of care. You can choose from various clinical care services through our award-winning community, and our community hosts activities that boost mental and physical health while bringing residents together for social support. Reach out to us for help figuring out how to care for your parent with dementia.