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04 Oct 2017

7 Tips for Handling Dementia in the Elderly


Topics: Senior Health

Do you think your elderly parents have dementia? Noticing the 10 early signs of dementia can be scary. It means you need to learn more about how to handle dementia and prepare yourself for caregiving responsibilities. Here are seven tips for handling dementia in the elderly.

1. Learn as Much as You Can about Dementia

To handle your parents’ illness, learn as much as you can about dementia. Learning more about their illness will help you know what to expect in the future. It will also help you understand why your parents have the symptoms that they do. This knowledge can help you be more understanding of what they’re going through. To learn more about dementia, you can talk to your parents’ doctor or turn to resources like the Alzheimer Society of Canada.

2. Try to Be Patient

Dementia in the elderly requires education, patience, and resources. Your parents may ask you the same questions over and over, or may ask you to take them home when they’re already home. They may forget words and have trouble communicating with you. Try to be patient with your parents in these situations instead of getting visibly frustrated. Take a few deep breaths, count to ten, and remember they’re ill.

3. Help Your Loved Ones Remain Independent

In the early stages of dementia in the elderly, daily tasks are still doable. If your parents or elderly loved ones are able to safely perform a task, let them do it themselves. This helps them stay independent, which is good for everyone.

For example, if they are still able to cook by themselves, let them do it so they can feel independent. Helping your parents stay as independent as possible also makes your job as a caregiver easier since you don’t need to do unnecessary work.

4. Remember Your Loved Ones’ Feelings

Caring for your loved one is hard for the caregiver and the elderly. People with dementia can feel a lot of emotions like anger, fear, or resentment due to their diagnosis. Depression and anxiety are also common in this situation. Talk about their feelings. An early-stage dementia support group could also help them talk about their feelings.

5. Keep Your Parents Safe

Wandering is a big problem for people with dementia. Six-in-ten dementia patients will wander, and this can be dangerous. They could get lost or injure themselves. As a caregiver, you’ll need to keep your parents safe.

One strategy is to install sensors on their doors, so you’ll be alerted if they go outdoors alone. Some families will also put GPS trackers on their loved ones so they can be located more easily if they wander off.

6. Take Care of Yourself

As a caregiver, it’s easy to put your own needs on the back burner. When you ignore your own needs, you can become very stressed. To look after others, you need to look after yourself, first. Take breaks from caring for your parents and spend time doing things you enjoy. Try to eat well and get some exercise. Let your friends and family know how they can help you.

7. Get Help from Professionals

Caring for elderly people with dementia is a big job. Family caregivers of people with dementia provide an average of 21.9 hours of care per week. They may need to provide care for five years or longer. For people with full-time jobs and children of their own, there’s just not enough time left in the week for senior care. Professional caregivers can help you balance all your responsibilities.


Tennille Kerrigan

Tenille is the president of Senior Helpers Canada, the premier franchise that delivers on what families and their loved ones need most. She has bachelor’s degree in business administration from York University, and has over 10 years of experience as a business owner and director. With Senior Helpers, our franchisees provide the professionalism and expert care that families and their aging loved ones require.

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