Dealing With Dementia In a Parent and Raising Children: Useful Advice to Know
Are you busy raising your own children, but are also dealing with dementia in a parent? If you're overwhelmed, read this useful advice.
Is your parent one of the nearly 50 million Americans that suffers from dementia? Have you been tasked with the responsibility of being their part-time or full-time caregiver?
Dealing with dementia in a parent is definitely challenging. But, when you're also trying to care for your own children, it can seem like an impossible undertaking.You can handle this, though. Read on for some advice that will help you stay sane while caring for both your parent and your children.
Tips for Dealing with Dementia in a Parent
These tips can help you navigate the various obstacles that are likely to come up while you're juggling caring for a parent with dementia and also caring for your own children.
Talk to Everyone about the Arrangement
When you first decide that you're going to start caring for your parent, it's important to make sure everyone is filled in on the decision.
In addition to talking to your parent about their dementia care plan, you also need to sit down with your kids and explain the situation to them.
The amount of information you share with them will depend on their age and maturity level, but you at least need to get them up to speed on the basics.
Address Confusion with Short, Simple Explanations
When you're caring for a parent with dementia, there are going to be times when they get confused.
They might not understand why you're at their house or why they're at your house. They might forget that you're caring for them or even who you or your children are.
When this kind of confusion arises, the best approach is to explain the situation with short, simple responses.If you go into too much detail, they'll likely just end up feeling more confused and frustrated.
Try to Figure Out Why They're Lashing Out
This tip goes for both parents and kids.
If your parent starts acting out and getting angry or frustrated, try to figure out what caused the change. Did something startle them or trigger an unpleasant memory?
Outbursts are common among folks with dementia, especially as their disease progresses. They become confused easily and, sometimes, getting angry or upset is the only way they know how to respond.
If your child starts acting out or acting clingy, sit down with them and try to figure out what's causing this behavior. Are they feeling left out? Are they struggling to adjust with the change of you caring for another family member?
It's tempting to lose your temper when your parent or child loses theirs, but it's imperative that you keep a cool head. Remember, everyone is looking to you for support and guidance at this time.
Give Your Kids Breaks
Whether your kids are acting out or not, it's important to make sure they have opportunities to take a break from the challenges of living with someone with dementia.
Arrange playdates with their friends or have someone come and spend time with your parent so you can take them out to lunch or a movie. Make sure they have outlets like sports or music lessons, too.
Simple things like this will show your kids that they're still a top priority for you. They might also minimize your children's need to seek out and cause problems.
Find Outlets for Your Stress
Of course, in addition to making sure your kids get a reprieve from the stress of caring for someone with dementia, you also need to make sure you get a break every once in a while.
Caring for a parent with dementia can be incredibly draining, and you need to find time to recharge.
Of course, this can be easier said than done. When you first start caring for your parent, take time to schedule days off into your calendar. You may also want to arrange an activity with a friend -- a lunch date, a yoga class, etc. -- so that you feel accountable to someone else.
Whether they happen twice a week or twice a month, write these days down arrange for someone else to come care for your parent. The sooner in advance that you plan it, the more likely you are to stick to it.
Don't be afraid to talk to your children or parent about how you're feeling. If you're overwhelmed or stressed out, it's better to let them know rather than keep it bottled up inside.
If you communicate your needs and feelings, they'll understand where you're coming from and will be less likely to blame themselves for things that aren't their fault.
Expressing your feelings can help you avoid losing your temper or being sharp with your parent or kids.It's easy to let emotion take over when you're stressed out, so you need to find a way to share what you're experiencing so that you don't say or do something you'll later regret.
Don't be Afraid to Look for Additional Help
Finally, remember that it is perfectly acceptable to ask for additional help. You can't and shouldn't be trying to handle all of this on your own.
Maybe you need to hire a home health aide to come care for your parent a couple of times per week. Or, maybe you need to recruit other family members to share some of the responsibility.
Don't be afraid to seek out support for your own mental health needs, too.
Joining a support group of seeing a therapist can help you work through the struggles associated with caring for your parent and children. This will allow you to show up in a better way for everyone, including yourself.
Need More Parenting Advice?
If you're dealing with dementia in a parent, you're going to face some immense challenges. But, if you keep these tips in mind, you'll likely find that it's much easier to overcome them.
Are you interested in learning more about maintaining your health and well-being while caring for your parent and your children? We've got resources to help you.
Start by reading this article on stress and anxiety management.