7 Ways to Help a Parent During the Onset of Alzheimer's

Posted on: 21 June 2017

As a progressive disease, Alzheimer's has various stages of dementia and memory loss. During the first stage, mild symptoms of dementia are to be expected. If you have a parent who has been diagnosed with the onset — or early stages — of Alzheimer's disease, there are many ways you can become actively involved and help him or her through the struggle.

1. Speak With Experienced Professionals

As a concerned son or daughter, take the initiative and consult with an experienced Alzheimer's care manager. He or she will be able to answer your questions and address any concerns you may have. Also, a professional can advise you on resources that may help you and your parent. You'll also learn what to expect during the months ahead. In addition, home visits from a caretaker or nurse may be arranged.

This is also a good time to begin exploring assisted living options like Alta Ridge Communities so that you're prepared should it come time to put your loved one in the care of others.

2. Join a Support Group

Coping with Alzheimer's can be a challenge for family members as well. You might want to seek out a support group for yourself and your parent. Go to meetings together where you can share experiences with other families and like-minded individuals. It often helps when you can reach out to others who are going through the same battle.

3. Help Your Parent Organize His or Her Life

As the condition progresses, your loved one may not be able to effectively manage important details pertaining to personal finances, medical records, personal contacts, and other aspects in his or her life. You can help your parent stay organized by filing documents away and seeing that monthly bills are taken care of. In addition, you might want to keep a calendar with important upcoming dates. Organizing a journal may be another good idea.

Another way to help organize your parent's life is to create a schedule and help him or her adhere to it. A structured and safe routine will give you peace of mind. The daily schedule may include times for meals, bathing and grooming, and doctor's appointments.

4. Encourage Your Loved One to Share in Decision Making

Excluding your parent from making decisions may make him or her feel helpless or isolated. During the onset of Alzheimer's, he or she may still be able to make sound decisions pertaining to everyday tasks. Allow your parent to choose his or her activities, clothing to wear, and foods to eat. At the same time, it's best to set limitations with the decision making.

5. Share Activities That Evoke Fond Memories

While there are many structured activities that may help an Alzheimer's patient, take it one step further. Encourage activities that will bring to mind fond memories of the past. For instance, was there a favorite movie you enjoyed with your parent years ago? How about a favorite song that your parent sang to you as a child? Try to keep the memory alive as long as possible by reliving the moment whenever you can.

You might also bring out a family photo album or scrapbook and look through photos together. While doing so, ask questions. "Here's a picture at Linda's graduation; remember that day?" Anything you can do to stimulate recall is a positive move.

6. Protect Your Parent

Of course, you'll want to remove physical hazards from the home to provide personal safety for your parent. But what about other dangers that your loved one may fall victim to? An Alzheimer's patient may be especially vulnerable to scams, from strangers or acquaintances who may take advantage of their situation. Protect your loved one from identity theft, insurance scams, and offers that seem too good to be true.

7. Plan for the Months and Years Ahead

Helping your parent plan for the future is possibly the best thing you can do for him or her. The time may come when your parent will need legal assistance. Helping him or her achieve a power of attorney for financial maters and health care is essential.

Although it is never a pleasant thought, you might also want to help your parent create a living will. Without one, his or her personal possessions may fall into the wrong hands or become lost forever. The will will also designate who will be left properly or money when the time comes.