You find yourself as the caregiver for a parent with dementia, and you notice that your role is changing every day. Even though you are the child, you are starting to wonder how much you need to interject in your parent's care, activities, and health decisions. Here are some things to know.
Assess Reliability from the Bottom
It is common for you to question your role when your parent has a lucid day and seems almost back to normal. Were their previous cognitive symptoms a result of an illness or special circumstance? Are you overreacting to your parent's condition? You certainly don't want to coddle your parent or take away more independence than what needs to be taken away. But in terms of safety, make sure that you do consider those worse days of their condition. Lucidity comes and goes, and you wouldn't want your parent on the road or left without any hygiene help when those moments come.
Don't Feel Bad for Protecting Your Loved One
Elderly parents may react strongly against the idea of a caregiver, an assisted living facility, or a nursing home. After all, they have established their ways and they don't want change. But sometimes, you have to make the difficult decisions that will ultimately put them in a safer situation, such as choosing an assisted living home or looking at skilled nursing homes. And humans are adaptable; what initially seems like an annoyance or fearful situation will become routine—and your loved one will be better off for it.
Seek Out Help from Geriatric Care Professionals
It is always a wise idea to have several professionals on your team who also have an ongoing impression of your loved one's condition. These could be, for instance, in-home care assistants who visit on a daily or weekly basis to provide custodial care services. They could be skilled nurses or doctors who have ongoing appointments with your loved one to assess their condition. They could also be the staff at rehabilitation centers or outpatient hospitals who have treated your parent multiple times in the past.
All of these professionals have training in geriatric care, which includes training in cognitive illnesses like dementia. Sometimes, this perspective is invaluable. You have not only your own opinion about your loved one's condition; you also have the support of all of these professionals as you decide what important steps to take to protect your parent's health.