Watching your parents age can be difficult, even more so when signs of dementia appear. Bringing up issues like these with your parents can be overwhelming, but it is important that you have the conversation for an earlier diagnosis and for everyone to better cope with the changes.
Decline in mental abilities occur as a result of dementia, including reasoning and remembering, which significantly interferes with daily living. Performing simple day-to-day tasks can become an ordeal. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. You and perhaps some of your family members might suspect that your father or mother has dementia, but you must confirm that is the case before doing anything else. Some of the early signs and symptoms of dementia that can help in diagnosing the condition include
As dementia progresses, you may encounter increased anger and aggression in your loved one, trouble sleeping, wandering and getting lost, anxiety and agitation, repetitive actions and questions, and he/she’s growing suspicious of others without any reason. Even though dementia cannot be cured, but an early diagnosis can lead to better medical treatment that will help your loved one with symptoms and give them the chance to voice their opinion about the care they would like to receive. It will not be wise to make the diagnosis yourself, as you might mistake symptoms of some other illness or condition to be dementia-symptoms. Enlist help of other family members, and consult with physicians and other healthcare professionals who work in senior care and specialize in dementia care.
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Do not let anything hold you back, do not think on the lines that you might risk offending the person or ruining your relationship with him, since delaying the conversation will just make it far more difficult in the future. If you go ahead and are honest in your approach, your parent will understand and take it as an act of love.
Here are a few tips that can help you prepare before taking the plunge:
Accept the fact that the conversation might not go as planned– Stay prepared for a challenging conversation. Your loved may not feel comfortable in discussing about the changes that you’ve noticed in him. If they get angry or defensive, leave the conversation midway (do not force it) and address the issue another time. Enlist the help of a healthcare provider if he still refuses help.
If your loved one isn’t feeling comfortable talking to you, find someone else like a relative, friend, or health care professional whose opinion he may more readily accept.
Try to have the conversation at the earliest possible time– As dementia progresses, symptoms worsen, and so will be the condition of your loved one. Have the conversation the moment you see the signs, before more symptoms occur. While you talk, stay positive. Do not make the conversation all about the debilitating effects of dementia. Reassure your loved one that you are there for her, and that there are people who can help him maintain a good quality life.
Don’t lose patience and get angry– Giving in to anger will simply end any hope of resolution and may lower the possibility of getting back to the discussion later. If you feel your anger is rising because of your loved one getting angry at every possible suggestion of yours, take a break or change the subject. Stay calm.
You might be tempted to postpone the talk, but delaying it for too long will only aggravate the issue. Instead of giving in, look for a good time and perhaps a new tactic to begin the conversation again.