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Virginia Beach Estate Planning Lawyer / Blog / Dementia / Mom Was Just Diagnosed With Dementia. What Can I Do to Help Her?

Mom Was Just Diagnosed With Dementia. What Can I Do to Help Her?

Many seniors suffer from some type of dementia. However, no matter how common it is, when your parent is diagnosed with dementia, it can be shocking and scary for both you and your parent. According to the Aging Parents Authority, there are seven important strategies that can help you and your parent cope with the signs of early dementia.

1. Baby-proof the house

People with dementia can often become frustrated with their condition, causing them to lash out or become combative. For this reason, it is important to evaluate the safety of your parent’s living space as carefully as you would for a crawling baby. Remove all guns, kitchen knives, power tools, and other dangerous items from their reach. Tape down cords to make sure that your parent cannot trip over them. If your parent operates small appliances like an iron, make sure that it is equipped with an automatic shutoff feature in case it gets left on for an extended period of time.

2. Monitor driving closely

It’s not usually necessary to restrict your parent’s driving completely if they are in the early stages of dementia. However, if you notice unexplained dents or scratches on your parent’s car or if you or others begin to feel unsafe when riding in the car while your parent is driving, it may be time to request that the state require your parent to pass a driving test. If they do not pass, the fact that they lose access to their car will be because the state no longer allows them to, which can make you seem like less of a “bad guy” to your parent. However, it is important to remember that even if your parent does not have a license, they could still try to drive if they have access to their car keys. In order to make your parent feel like they still have control, you may want to consider giving them a set of car keys that do not work in any of the cars in the home. This allows them to have a set of keys to hold without actually being able to drive away.

3. Supervise all medications

Dementia patients often forget to take medications or forget that they have already taken them, leading them to take them twice. Depending on the medication, misuse of the drug could cause your parent to be hospitalized, which could confuse your parent and lead to a worsening of her dementia. For these reasons, it is important to check on your parent daily to make sure that they are taking their medications properly.

4. Give your parent a pleasant living area

People in the early stages of dementia need clean, cheerful surroundings with plenty of stimulation. Having your parent stay in a dark room with a lack of light can actually allow their condition to worsen.

5. Have your parent exercise regularly

When people are diagnosed with dementia, they often stop doing some of the things that helped them to remain active before the diagnosis. This can cause your parents’ muscles to weaken, leaving them prone to falls, which could lead to hospital visits that worsen their confusion. For these reasons, it is important to make sure that your parent goes on walks or does other physical activities to help him remain active.

6. Keep your parent mentally active for as long as possible

Just as your parent’s physical condition can worsen without exercise, their mental condition will deteriorate more quickly if they do not remain mentally active. Make sure your parent does things like reading, working puzzles, and playing games for as long as they are able. However, be sure not to introduce too many new activities to your parent, as this can confuse and frustrate them.

7. Take care of yourself

If you are physically or mentally exhausted, it is impossible to be helpful to your parent. If their care is becoming too much for you to handle, consider arranging in-home care or adult day care services for your parent. As your parent’s dementia progresses, it is important to build a support system of people who will be able to help you care for your parent.

Because dementia is often a degenerative disease that worsens with time, it is important to consult with an experienced elder law attorney to ensure that your parent’s estate plan is in place in case they become incapacitated. For more information about resources for dealing with dementia, visit www.agingparentsauthority.com.

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