Are you trying to figure out exactly how to support your elderly mother or father who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s? There are plenty of things family can do to be supportive. They don’t all require you to give up your life, have them move in with you, or have you move in with them.
Below, we discuss three things you might be able to do right now that can support an elderly parent who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia. These wonderful acts of love show the senior how much you care, but can also keep them safe and boost their quality of life.
1. Remember to listen to him or her.
Too often, especially with somebody who is dealing with a condition as serious as Alzheimer’s, family and friends may rally around support them, but they forget to listen to what he or she is saying.
You may worry about their safety. You might encourage your father to not go outside anymore without somebody there with them. You might tell your mother to stop driving.
We do these things out of love, fear, and a concern over safety for that senior. However, there is great value in listening to what he or she has to say. Even though we might think they are being stubborn by wanting to go to the park or to take a walk around the block, there is often something below the surface.
If you truly want to support this aging parent in a positive and constructive way, learn to listen better. You might just learn something new that you never thought about before.
2. When it comes to support, think long and short.
It’s easy to think about only short-term, especially when facing the daunting reality of Alzheimer’s, but you also have to consider the long-term components of the disease.
What does this mean? Well, in the beginning, many people see their elderly mother or father is completely capable of attending to their own basic care. They are still lucid and cogent. They’re still physically capable. They can hold pretty good conversations.
Sure, they might need a few reminders about things that were said to them or things they have to do or even appointments that are coming up, but other than that, they seem pretty capable.
They certainly can be, but what you need to discuss in these early months is long-term challenges the senior will face. It’s not a question of whether or not they might, but rather when those challenges show themselves. It could take just a couple of years for some people. Maybe a little more.
But don’t neglect the main care component, which may mean discussing companion care at home.
3. Learn about what to expect.
No matter what you already think or know about Alzheimer’s, there’s likely a number of things you haven’t considered. One could very well be companion care at home.
If this is your spouse who has Alzheimer’s, a parent who lives right down the road, and you assume you can be there for them anytime they need it, consider again. Talk about what type of support he or she will want in the future when their memory loss becomes a serious challenge.