Sunday, May 15, 2022

How To Talk To Aging Parents About Memory Loss

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Listen For The Meaning Behind Their Words

Dealing with an aging parent with memory loss or dementia

Feeling misunderstood is a very frustrating aspect of dementia. Become an active listener and provide encouragement. Give the person the time they need to express themselves.

Try not to interrupt or jump in to finish their thoughts. Never brush off their feelings. Using the rules of improv with dementia can help. Things like listening fully, being in the moment, and going with the flow can all make communication go more smoothly no matter what stage of dementia they are in.

What Are The 7 Stages Of Dementia

When the result of the doctors diagnosis of a family member is dementia or Alzheimers, the patient might enter the denial phase. Thats why some parents would rather withdraw from their social life. They shy away even from family and friends. When they do isolate themselves, they start to hallucinate or imagine things. Caring for them can become a real challenge for the whole family or the caregiver when their condition worsens. But first, let us know what stage theyre at so we can understand our mom or dad, or any family member with dementia. This will help us talk to them better and cope up with their behavior as their dementia progresses.

See which stage of dementia best describes your loved one, so you can prepare to care for this mental disorder:

Stage 1: No Cognitive Decline / Normal Behavior

Most people who show no symptoms are considered in the first stage. Your mom or dad may experience no signs of dementia although changes in the brain might have already started. These can happen a few years before any symptoms of the disease may appear. Those who are under this stage can function normally and may not show any obvious memory loss.

Stage 2: Very Mild Decline / Forgetfulness

Stage 3: Mild Decline

Stage 4: Moderate Decline

Stage 5: Moderately Severe Decline

Stage 6: Severe Decline

Stage 7: Very Severe Decline

Tips To Help Caregivers Cope With Memory Loss

It can be taxing for even the most patient person to dealwith a parent who repeatedly asks the same thing, says Dr. Hashmi. Butpatience is a big ally for caregivers, so stick with it.

Some other tips to help you help your aging parent:

  • Dont go it alone: Some 40 million older adults and family members in the U.S. share your experiences. Connect with them to feel less alone and swap strategies for handling specific scenarios.
  • Emphasize its not their fault: If your parent has Alzheimers disease , remember that its not them doing or saying things. Its the disease. If your parent becomes rude or angry, remember that the disease is talking to someone it doesnt know.
  • Redirect them: Often the short-term memory is gone, but your loved one can remember the old days. Use this to your advantage. Talk about the past or look at old pictures together to help them shift their focus to the present.
  • Lose the argument: If youve tried reorienting your parent, but they still insist theyre in Canada when youre actually in California, let it go. At the moment, this is your loved ones reality. Its more helpful to meet them where they are than insist that theyre wrong.
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    Tips For Having The Talk With A Parent About Dementia Symptoms

    Adult children commonly have a hard time broaching the subject of dementia with a loved one. Ruth Drew, Director of Family and Information Services at the Alzheimers Association, says, I think people are worried about hurting a family relationship or upsetting people that they care about.

    Drew also says that broaching the topic early helps everyone. When you know what youre dealing with upfront, then you can plan, she adds. The person can have a voice in what happens next.

    If your loved one is exhibiting dementia symptoms, it is crucial to have the talk with him or her as soon as possible.

    Here are six tips for talking with someone you love about dementia:

    Be Prepared With A Suggested Plan Of Action

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    If your discussion yields the results you are looking for, with your parent ready to accept that memory loss is becoming a real problem, you will want to be prepared to work out a concrete plan of action. Have a list of suggestions ready to discuss with your parent, such as a medical evaluation, for instance, and/or solutions for getting your parent help with tasks that have become difficult to handle.

    Finally, it is important not to get discouraged if your first talk does not work out as well as you hope. It generally is not easy for an aging parent to accept that changes must be made, and it is common for them to feel upset, resistant or defensive. You may have to try several times to get through to your parent. Broach the subject again in a week or so, after your parent has had a chance to cool off and think things through. If you still cannot reach your parent, consider asking for help from other family members, close friends or a counselor who is experienced with elder care issues.

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    Pay Attention To Tone Of Voice

    Slow down, leave pauses between each sentence, speak simply and never raise your voice. Keep things conversational this isnt a lecture or an interrogation.

    Make sure to always be respectful and think about how youd like to be treated. For example, dont talk about your parent when they are right there with you in the room. Always include your loved one in the conversation. People with dementia may feel isolated, so make sure they know you value them!

    Ways To Find The Right Words To Say

    There are times in life when words escape us. This is one of them. You want to make sure your relative knows that you understand the news is difficult. Share that you are in this together. Be sure they know that people with dementia can continue to enjoy life.

    Discussing the dementia diagnosis will be the first of many conversations as the disease progresses. The ideas that follow may help you express yourself in an honest yet loving way, both in your first conversation and those to come.

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    How To Talk With Aging Parents About Their Needs And Wishes

    Its tough to know how to talk with older parents about difficult topics. Are you gonna say the wrong thing and push your elderly parent away?

    In this episode of THE CARING FOR AGING PARENTS SHOW, I share 7 tips for talking with older parents about their needs and wishes related to caregiving and difficult topics.

    Emotions tend to run high around difficult topics like driving, independent living, health decisions, and managing money. Taking the time to prepare for these conversations will set you up for success.

    So watch the video now!

    Heres an overview of the 7 tips I share for talking with your aging parents about their needs and wishes with caregiving and difficult topics!

    Tip 1: Call for a Parent/Family Meeting

    Ask to meet with your parents to talk about their wishes in older adulthood. By calling for a family meeting you and your aging parents will have the time to prepare, both logistically and emotionally. and youll have the chance to manage expectations about what this meeting is about. In fact, you might even suggest a topic ahead of time.

    When calling for a meeting, its important to consider whats best for your aging parent. Do they prefer everyone to meet together? Or, does your parent do better one on one? Really be mindful of this and plan accordingly.

    Tip 2: Take the time to prepare for the conversation.

    Once you have the topic to discuss, take it a step further and come up with a list of questions having to do with that topic.

    Dont Expect Them To Conform To Present

    How To Talk To A Parent With Memory Loss

    As strange as that may sound, learn how to enter into the patients/loved one’s world and not expect them to conform to our present day. As Diane Waugh, BSN, RN, CDP, says in the video above: When I had to deal with memory loss with my own mother, I found the hardest thing for me to do was to not try to drag her into my reality, but to go live where she was living, in her understanding.

    Caregivers and/or family members should remember: give up expectations of the patient and/or loved one . Giving up expectations can make room for what the patient and/or loved one’s strengths are .

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    If Your Elderly Parent Has Dementia:

    Dont exclude your parent. Those with memory loss still want to feel like they are part of the family and conversation.

    Take time to listen. Set aside enough time in your day to truly listen to your parent. Give them time to respond.

    Be patient. Dont interrupt or finish a parents sentences unless you are asked for help in finding the right words.

    Dont argue. Dont disagree with a person who has memory loss. Always go along with what they are saying. Learn to let things go.

    Laugh. Humor can lighten the mood and makes the conversation easier.

    Maintain eye contact. This shows that you care about the person and what they are saying.

    Ask questions the right way. Only ask questions with a yes/no answer. For example, Would you like a cup of tea? instead of, What would you like to drink?


    Having The Conversation About Dementia

    Its hard for adult children to watch parents decline in health as they age. It is even harder, for most of us, to talk with them about the changes we see. When the subject is something as frightening and sensitive as dementia, it can seem almost impossible.

    I think people are worried about hurting a family relationship or hurting someone’s feelings or upsetting people that they care about, said Ruth Drew, director of family and information services at the Alzheimers Association.

    But making the decision to broach the subject can help everyone the parent and other loved ones because it can lead to a diagnosis, Drew said.

    When you know what you’re dealing with upfront, then you can plan, she said. The person can have a voice in what happens next.

    For example, your parent might say: ‘If at some point down the road I am not able to take care of myself, here is what I would want,’ Drew said. That planning is able to give some comfort and also reduce fear of the unknown, she added. The alternative waiting until there is a crisis makes choices very limited, Drew noted.

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    Ways You Can Help Your Elderly Parents Who Suffer From Memory Loss

    My sweet mother-in-law just turned 99 years old. She is independent, lives alone, does not use any in-home care service and is extremely active. Last week, for her birthday I told her I was sending her 12 books to read, one for each month of her 99th year.

    We spoke about the kinds of books I ordered and how I hoped she liked them all. She was so kind and appreciative. We spoke on this topic for about 15 minutes.

    Yesterday, she called me to ask me why is she receiving so many books from me? She had no memory of our conversation.

    Although she has no other signs of declining health, its very difficult to escape problems with memory issues as she ages. Of course, serious memory problems are not inevitable. Just like any muscle in your body the more you use it, the less likely youll lose it.

    But, theres no cure as of yet for general memory loss. The best treatments available today work to slow it down.

    If an older person in your life is demonstrating the kind of memory problems that are affecting his/her daily life or presenting a safety hazard, the first step and most important thing adult children can do is to check out the persons overall health with their family doctor.

    You never know what seem to be signs of dementia may actually be from medication side effects, certain medical conditions, or even dehydration, so you want to have that looked into.

    Play To Their Strengths

    Summerfield Blog

    Sometimes memory loss is so devastating that we all forget that there is a person still in there somewhere. Family members can be distraught by what’s missing and forget that there’s still a lot there within the person, and that they have strengths.

    They still have long-term memory, so its up to the caregiver and/or family member to find them. It’s interesting that, medically, doctors do tests on other conditions but when it comes to memory loss, it’s often looked at like a switch: Either they got it, or they don’t. Just like everything else, there’s a progression of memory loss, and its up to the caregiver and/or family member to find out where the patient and/or loved one is, and bolster that.

    Strength #1: Long-term memory & stories

    Everyone has a short-term memory drawer and long-term memory drawer, and we put information in each. People with dementia and/or Alzheimers have a short-term memory drawer that has no bottom. He/she puts things in, and then they get lost. The long-term memory drawer, however, has a solid bottom. Lots of stories that are retrievable await . Encourage your patients and/or loved ones to tell you stories. You can even use photos to encourage stories. Photos are wonderful long-term memory reminders.

    Strength #2: Humor & music

    Strength #3: Spirituality

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    Dementia Or Alzheimers: A Daughters Guide To Home Care From The Early Signs And Onset Of Dementia Through The Various Alzheimer Stages

    While there are many suggestions and references for others to use, the book never falls into a dull recounting of lists of books or items to pursue. Instead, as Ms. Gail recounts her memories, she shares the helpful things she found that aided her mother during what can be a difficult time for everyone.

    This loving memoir is a touching reminder to all of us that even though it can be painful watching a loved one go through this difficult time, there are rewards in helping them in whatever way we are able.

    Stay Alert For The Following Signs Of Scammers:

    • Strange-looking signatures on checks or legal documents
    • Stories or evidence of unexplained money transfers
    • Sudden changes in your parents will
    • Changes to the mortgage, loans, or other major financial agreements
    • Missing jewelry or cash
    • Newly established lines of credit
    • Frequent phone solicitations or calls from telemarketers
    • Repeated calls from unknown numbers at the same times of day
    • Non-FDA-approved medical devices or procedures
    • Unnecessary home or auto repairs
    • Unusual requests for sizeable charitable donations

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    How To Persuade Your Parent To Get Tested

    Your parent might be more aware of his or her memory problems than you realize. For example, Mom might be dropping hints that sheâs starting to struggle, but youâve ignored them because you might not want to accept that there could be a problem. If sheâs trying to subtly tell you that everything isnât OK, be supportive of getting things checked out rather than dismissive, says Teepa Snow, a registered occupational therapist and founder of Positive Approach to Care, a training, education and consulting company building a community of care for people living with dementia.

    However, if youâre the one seeing signs of trouble and want to initiate a conversation with your parent, Snow suggests starting by asking a more general question. Try something like, âHow do you feel like youâre doing? Is everything as it has been or are there things that arenât the same?â

    If your parent doesnât think anything is wrong and that thereâs no need to be tested, Snow recommends trying one of these approaches.

    Reach out to a third party: Ask your parentâs primary care provider or even one of your parentâs friends to suggest that he or she get tested for dementia. Your parent might be more open to the suggestion if it comes from a professional or peer than from you, the child.

    Let your parent know that youâre worried about her well-being and that youâre asking her to get checked out by a doctor as a favor to you.

    Talking To Your Aging Parents About Money

    Worried About Memory Loss in Elderly Parents? 5 Helpful Tips! (Ep #002)
  • Discuss finances before you need to make major decisions. Its often easier to talk about changes when they dont have to be made now. It doesnt seem so personal so your parent doesnt get defensive. Make it seem like two adults having a conversation about the future. Let them have input and say what they want. You can work with them to make their goals happen and offer advice. – How to Talk About Your Elderly Parent’s Finances, Village Green Retirement Campus Twitter:
  • Ask about money during a quiet time. Finding a quiet time to ask your parents to engage in a financial dialogue with you is essential. Be certain to avoid busy holiday times or events where you are likely to be distracted. While you may want to talk today about money, remember your parent may need some time to adjust to the idea of breaking their money silence with you. Depending on your personality, waiting for a quiet time to invite them to engage in a money talk may be challenging. In this situation, patience does pay off. Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, 7 tips for talking to your aging parents about money, PBS NewsHour Twitter:
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    When A Parent Begins To Exhibit Early Signs Of Dementia Or Alzeimer’s It’s Difficult For Families To Address It These Tips Will Make The Process Easier

      Mom was always scatterbrained, but shes been acting different lately. She isnt just leaving her car keys in the fridge or searching the house for the eyeglasses that were on her head the whole time. Her lapses are moving into less cute territory, like needing help remembering her grandchildren. You suspect shes exhibiting early signs of dementia. Alzheimers, maybe.

      You dont think this lightly. And, like most people, you have no idea how to talk about it. University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine Professor and Penn Memory Center co-director Jason Karlawish says that because theres high-octane stigma surrounding Alzheimers disease, its difficult for families to address dementia when they suspect it.

      Once theres stigma surrounding the disease, it limits peoples desire to find out if theres a problem and if they might have it or even just talk about it, Karlawish, one of the worlds foremost authorities on dementia, said. Proof: In a recent Alzheimers Association survey, nearly three quarters of Americans said it would be challenging to discuss this issue with a loved one.

      Its understandable that many families are reluctant to express their concerns and initiate a conversation, but there are good reasons to do so, Drew said. Early detection and diagnosis puts individuals and families in the best position to navigate a devastating disease. Avoiding the conversation and letting problems progress is the worst thing you can do.

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