Family and friends matter when it comes to navigating life’s ups and downs. So, what can you do to keep the special bond alive when an elderly parent is living with dementia?
How can you stay connected, especially when they may forget some of your shared experiences and interests you both enjoyed?
- Focus on the person and value them
For those living with dementia, the need to be a valued member of a family or group of friends doesn’t lessen. This is the time when they will need you the most. Despite this, we often fear the changes that we see, potentially stopping the relationship as we knew it. Alzheimer’s Australia suggests focusing on the person that they are now and respecting what they are going through. A gentle touch, holding hands, linking arms or hugging are more important than ever before. Behave towards your elderly parent as if they count – this will powerfully remind them of their role in your life and how you value them.
- Be prepared to ‘walk a mile in their shoes’
People living with dementia are working very hard to make sense of their world, to see through the confusion and deal with their symptoms. Being prepared to ‘walk a mile in their shoes’ can help you to understand them and be more accepting of their situation. Their mistakes and mix-ups shouldn’t be taken personally.
(For an insider’s guide to dementia, click here.)
- Support the person caring for your elderly parent
If one of your parents is caring for the other, offer them your support or that of a Home Care Provider that’s experienced in dementia care. It may also be possible for more family members to be involved in supporting the person with dementia. It’s important that the Primary Caregiver has regular times of rest away from their duties so that they can return refreshed and reinvigorated to their caring role.
Oxley Home Care offers respite care and dementia care.
- Communicate and connect with your elderly parent
Your elderly parent’s language skills and vocabulary may reduce, but their desire to communicate will not disappear. They will seek to be understood and to understand you. Try to keep the communication going with your loved one, even if it feels one-sided. Alzheimer’s Australia recommends using prompts, so that you can help your elderly parent recall events without feeling embarrassed. For example – “I really enjoyed our drive around the lake yesterday.” Talk to your elderly parent directly. Make eye contact and use positive body language – it becomes more important when their language skills diminish. Speak clearly and be patient, allowing them time to find the right response.
- Do activities together
Find activities that you both of you can be involved in, get pleasure from and that show you want to be with your elderly parent. Activities to share could include going for a drive, eating an ice cream, going to the markets, watching the birds, walking the dog, having a coffee in a café, reading together, planting seeds, visiting an art gallery, having a cup of tea, listening to music together, doing a puzzle together, enjoying a massage together, brushing each other’s hair, visiting a garden centre. Activities can tap into your elderly parent’s past hobbies and skills from their working life. It doesn’t matter if the activity lasts only five minutes. And, if the activity is soon forgotten, that’s okay too.
Want more information?
Oxley Home Care’s Dementia Care
Oxley Home Care offers tailored, early intervention and health and lifestyle coaching to people with dementia. Each person assisted is treated as an individual with their own history, memories and likes/dislikes taken into consideration, with services offered from early onset dementia through to palliative dementia care.
About Oxley Home Care:
Oxley Home Care has been helping Australians live independently at home for over 10 years in Sydney.
A Home Care Package with Oxley Home Care can help you live in the comfort of your own home, maintain your independence and quality of life.