October 2012
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What to do when your Parents Start to Decline

What to do when your Parents Start to Decline

For most people, the realization that their parent may be experiencing memory problems that could be due to something other than normal aging is gradual. No one wants to admit their parent may be beginning to decline, or accept the possibility that memory problems could be the start of dementia with all that entails. However, it’s important to realize that no matter where the memory loss leads, there is available help for Alzheimer’s caregivers.

Dementia Symptoms

While the beginning signs of dementia may go unnoticed, as the condition progresses, the reality of a parent’s growing problem will be impossible to ignore. Some of the symptoms of dementia include:

• Failing Memory

• Confusion

• Trouble Performing Familiar Tasks

• Disorientation to place and time

• Poor Judgment

• Mood Swings

• Loss of Initiative

• Paranoia

• Delusions

Parents suffering from dementia will display a continuous decline in the ability to perform routine daily activities such as dressing themselves, bathing or showering, preparing food and performing their regular schedule.

If someone suspects their parent may be showing symptoms of dementia, it is important to have them examined by their physician who may recommend a specialist to gain further insight into the possible cause of their declining ability.

When Children Become Parental Caregivers

It can be hard for people to admit they’ve become caregivers for a parent. Often they also are caring for their own family and have a job. They believe that although their visits with their parents have transitioned from being social to being necessary, that unless they’re caring for them 24 hours a day, they aren’t really caregivers. When children begin to help parents with basic living skills, they’ve become caregivers. When this occurs, the new role added to their existing ones can create pressure over time.

Finding Help for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

Being the caregiver for a parent with Alzheimer’s disease can affect the parent-child relationship drastically and, over time, create resentment in the child who’s assumed the role of caregiver. This can often be a result of feelings of helplessness, and the caregivers fear that they don’t know how best to care for their loved one or keep them safe. There are a number of resources available online which can provide help for Alzheimer’s caregivers along with providing a sense of confidence. The best resources include not only educational materials but training on how to safely and effectively care for someone with Alzheimer’s based on the most recent scientific research. This type of resource can decrease the burden felt by caregivers and increase the length of time a parent with Alzheimer’s can safely remain in their own home. Such resources also improve the relationship between the child and parent, strengthening the bond they share.

Patrick Whalen is a part of an elite team of writers who have contributed to hundreds of blogs and news sites. Follow him @2patwhalen.

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