Caregiving at Home for an Aged Parent With Dementia

If you are caregiving your senior parent with dementia, you need to take heed of some steps and practices to incorporate into the process. These tactics enhance the life of your parent with dementia and make it somewhat easier for you to provide appropriate caregiving to your mother or father.

  • Create a safe environment for your parent
  • Make use of prompting with your parent with dementia
  • Get finances and legal affairs in order 
  • Find in-home dementia help
  • Make time for yourself
  • Consider a long-term care option

Create a Safe Environment for Your Parent

Creating a safe environment is a fundamental aspect of caregiving at home for a parent with dementia. Many strategies must be considered to ensure a safe environment, which applies to caregiving at home for any person over the age of 65. The basic steps that must be taken to create a safe home environment for your aging parent, including a mother or father diagnosed with dementia, include:

  • Clean up clutter and remove tripping hazards, like throw rugs
  • Install or tighten railings on stairs and in the bathroom
  • Give them a bedroom downstairs to avoid unnecessary trips up and down stairs
  • Get an elderly video or GPS monitoring system
  • Make sure rooms are well lit

Make Use of Prompting With Your Parent With Dementia

A technique known as prompting can be of significant assistance to a person with dementia and his or her caregiver. Prompting can genuinely assist in fostering a more successful partnership between an aging parent diagnosed with dementia and that individual’s caregiver.

Prompting can help you and your parent with dementia communicate better and work together more smoothly. It also motivates the person with dementia to remain involved in everything to their highest ability.

Prompting refers to giving a verbal, physical, or gesture cue to indicate what the person with dementia is expected to do next. This process taps into familiar movements stored in long-term memory, which often remain well into the disease’s progression.

There are prompting techniques provided by the Alzheimer’s Association that be helpful to you when you are caregiving at home for a parent with dementia:

  • Transition: Use transition prompts during every interaction with your loved one to alert him or her that something is happening. Make eye contact and use positive body language while making a simple statement that indicates what is coming next. An example would be saying, “Good morning, dear; you must be hungry,” before accompanying your parent to the table for breakfast. 
  • Verbal: Verbal prompts consist of giving step-by-step directions. Again, use a cheerful manner and a helpful, respectful tone to say something such as “Use the spoon to stir your coffee.” Verbal prompts should be short and simple. 
  • Gestures: Gesture prompting is pointing to an object or touching your loved one to indicate where you want them to take action. Perhaps both of you have gone outside to check the mailbox. You can point to it or touch his or her hand to suggest opening it.
  • Demonstration: Demonstration prompts involve showing or mimicking the action you’d like your loved one to accomplish. If you serve a glass of iced tea and wish to encourage them to drink it, bring an imaginary glass to your lips as a signal.  
  • Hand-over-hand: Here, you place your hand over that of your loved one to guide the desired action from beginning to end. After repeating it several times, let go to see if they can continue on their own.  
  • Hand-under-hand: Providing more assistance than hand-over-hand, this technique consists of hooking your thumb under your loved ones to take them through the physical action of the task while you are the one doing it. It helps them maintain awareness and involvement in the act. It helps to start this prompt with a simple handshake and then swivel your hand around until you have accomplished the thumb grasp. This is the ideal physical prompt as it allows your loved one to have more control, and you can affect both gross and fine motor movements. 

Get Finances and Legal Affairs in Order

As the primary caregiver for your parent, during the early stages of dementia, you need to start planning for the later stages. This includes addressing how your parent’s financial affairs will be handled during the latter stages of dementia. Examples of the type of work that needs to be done to get your parent’s financial and legal affairs in order include the following:

  • Getting power of attorney for your parents
  • Taking stock of your parent’s financial situation
  • Looking into the costs of home care or assisted living
  • Locating your parent’s will, Social Security card, birth certificate, house deed/title, and other important documents

Find In-Home Dementia Help

When it comes to serving as your parent’s caregiver when your mother or father diagnosed with dementia lives at home, you do not need to “do it alone.” The time may come when you should consider finding in-home dementia care and assistance. For example, you might want to consider engaging the services of a homecare professional or homecare agency that can assist your parent with activities of daily living that include:

  • Bathing, dressing, and grooming
  • Meal prep
  • Transportation services
  • Housekeeping

Caregivers also receive dementia-specific training so they know how to handle elderly parents with dementia. Two of the main benefits of professional in-home care include:

  • Improving the quality of your loved one’s life: Your loved one will receive quality hands-on care from trained professionals. And as your loved one’s dementia progresses, so will their level of care.
  • Removing your burden of care: You’ll receive respite and relief from the stresses of being a primary caregiver. This will allow you more time to yourself and quality time with your loved one.

Make Time for Yourself

You have an obligation to make time for yourself while serving as the primary caregiver for your parent diagnosed with dementia. You need to continue to do those things you enjoy. You must make time for other members of your family. You should not sacrifice your career or professional life in the process of caring for a family member, including a parent, with dementia.

Consider a Long-Term Care Option

The time may come when you may want to consider a long-term care option for your mother or father. In other words, you may reach a point when caring for your parent with dementia exceeds what you can reasonably provide.

There likely are different types of long-term care options in your area that provide the kind of assistance your parent needs at this time. For example, if your parent’s dementia is in the early stages, transitioning your parent into an assisted living program may work. On the other hand, if your parent is in the later stages of dementia, the time to move your mother or father to a memory canter may have arrived.