Dementia is defined as various symptoms which include impairments in thinking, communication and memory. The symptoms of dementia are caused by many diseases including Alzheimer’s and stroke. Though it is difficult for a child to consider that their parent may be developing a form of dementia, early detection gives your elder loved one the opportunity to get the most out of available treatments.
Diseases associated with dementia are progressive. Knowing what you and your parent face will provide you with the motivation to make the most of your time together and plan for the future.
Memory loss is one of the first early signs of this disease. Age related memory loss and dementia can easily be confused. Age related memory loss reveals itself as occasionally forgetting where they left their keys, what time an appointment is, or trouble pulling the right word out of the memory files. Dementia related memory loss disrupts their life. Disorientation in familiar places, and forgetting how to do things they’ve done repeatedly all their life are two such symptoms.
Changes in mood and personality become noticeable as the disease progresses. This can include a loss of emotions and an increase in apathy. Confusion becomes apparent. They may have difficulty accomplishing usual tasks, remembering names of old friends and family members, or repeat words and ideas that were just conveyed to them. This relates to the difficulty that may develop when trying to follow a conversation or the storyline of a movie.
After the Diagnosis
Once a diagnosis has been made, you and your parent will, most likely, experience a wide range of emotions including fear, denial, depression, a sense of loss, and even anger. It’s important that you both take the time to express and deal with these emotions that can rise and fall with rapid regularity.
There are support groups for both of you that can help tremendously. Talking with people that have been in both your shoes can shed light on any fears about the future and possible scenarios that may be playing out in both of your minds. It’s important to remember that now is the only time that really matters and that your parent can still live a rewarding and fulfilling life.
It will be important to get your caregiving team in place. Surround yourself with family and friends that are willing to give a hand and consider obtaining the services of an elder care provider. These professionals have cared for many seniors faced with this diagnosis. They’ve developed the patience and communication skills required to make your parent feel at ease while they support them with the daily activities of living and provide that all-important companionship.