Moving my family to live with and care for my Mum who has dementia (Alzheimer’s) reminds me of the first two years of being a new Dad. Mentally you think you are prepared but you are not really.
You’ve read as much as you can, tried to speak to others with a similar experience and hope it helps. Sometime it does, sometimes it doesn’t.
Being a Dad to my mum (hence the title) is the best way to describe how I feel. The priority is to keep her safe and healthy. Safety is relatively easy (she doesn’t wander off like a 2 year old) but she does have a lot more health issues to worry about.
Dementia (umbrella term with lots of variants like Alzheimer’s) appears to be on the rise. This is probably due to an ever increasing ageing population and a recognition that a memory problem is not just old age. The cheery thought for everyone reading this is that dementia is now the leading cause of death according to the Office for National Statistics – www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-37972141
As a Dad, I feel my priority and purpose in life is to provide for my family. This covers a multitude of things. Money through work, life experiences for advice, emotional support and love amongst other things. When you become the Dad for a parent with dementia these elements and more become part of your new role as a Dad.
Dementia Care Top Tips
- Ensure you have the best support around you. Providing care yourself is a big task. You need to make sure your family is well equipped and prepared for taking this on.
- Ensure you get a good care provider to support you. Good = reliable (they contact you if things change), work with you when things aren’t perfect and react to suggestions or requests (less 07:00 wake ups for example – I need my beauty sleep)
- Encourage your parents to get an LPA before things go downhill. You need to get it registered and then invoke it when you need it. If you haven’t got one and things go wrong, its too late.
- Try to de-stress all situations if someone has dementia. Asking “why” questions won’t give you any help on what actually happened. Just accept the situation in front of you and resolve whatever the issue is.
- Try not to get frustrated. Remember what it was like looking after a baby/toddler who relied on you for everything, cleaning, food, support, caring, bed time, entertainment etc.
- Learn what the normal situation is. Trust your instincts. You probably did the same with your child. You knew when they were not 100% and the same applies to someone with dementia. They don’t necessarily know or recognise that something is wrong.
- One medical condition can look a lot like another. With mum we have seen how her sugar levels, sodium levels or a water infection all affect the way she behaves. Her memory issues are a constant, but they become more pronounced when one or more of the other conditions occur.
- Find a good supply of medical/rubber gloves and for the ladies a good supply of hand cream for dry hands.
These are just some of the things I have learnt from being a Dad to my Mum who has dementia.