Dealing with parents who have dementia
Dementia is the loss of mental faculties which usually hit people who are old (mostly, above sixty five years of age). They start getting disoriented, confused and slowly, but surely, their mental faculties disintegrate, and they stop making sense. This can be a really scary phase for them, and dementia never comes without bringing major problems with it. It is not easy for the person suffering from the disease. It’s not easy for the people who are around him/her, either.
If a parent starts to show signs of dementia, then you must take him/her to the doctor immediately. Regular doctor’s visits are advised to people who are getting old, anyway. If dementia is the cause of the sudden change in your parents, then you must mentally brace yourself to take care of a person who will be confused, angry, depressed, nonsensical and forgetful. It can be very taxing, but it is not impossible to do. Before and above everything else, you must educate yourself about what dementia is actually about, and how it affects the patient. This is a very crucial step, and not just an introductory session. Often, your parent will end up doing things which will frustrate you, and make you angry. These things might make you say hurtful things to your parent. In order to avoid that as much as possible, you must know about the disease, and how it will affect the patient. You will be slightly better prepared to deal with your mother/father.
Be there for your parent as much as possible, but also keep distractions at hand, because it is very easy to get sucked into a vortex of bitterness, self-pity and depression when one has to deal with such a difficult situation on a regular basis. Also, keeping your health in good shape is very important. You need to have the energy and the physical as well as mental stamina to take care of another person who is losing exactly those aspects.
You have to be very vigilant and very meticulous. As dementia progresses, the patient will slowly descend to the level of a one-year old kid. As such, it will almost be equal to child-proofing the house so as to not let the patient harm himself/herself, or anything else around. You need to lock up cupboards with harmful chemicals inside them and you need to keep sharp objects away from the potential reach of the patient. If your parent has keys to cupboard, you may have to take them away, and soon, you might have to keep around-the-clock nursing assistance for your parent.
It is very important that you always have a support system around you. Dementia is not something you need to be ashamed of. It occurs naturally, and it does not reflect upon either you, or your parent. So when you find yourself being unable to control whatever is going on, please ask for help from friends, relatives, or anyone else whom you or your parent trusts.
At the end of the day, you might find yourself wanting to give up, and you may want to wash your hands off it. During these times, please take an informed decision after considering the years of hard-work your parent put into your up-bringing, without expecting much in return.