Family is one of the most important parts of many people’s lives. The people you grew up with are the ones who shape you the most, so naturally, you’re still a part of their lives as you get older. The family dynamic changes between parent and child with age. Parents go from teachers to friends, and children go from being parented to learning how to take care of their parent’s needs.
Something that children also have to learn is how to spot the difference between natural aging and diseases brought on by time. Not every moment when your parents forget their keys or leave behind a grocery list is a sign that you should take them to the doctor’s office, but you should keep an eye on them in case memory issues become more severe.
If you’ve ever questioned whether your parent is developing dementia or not, you’re not alone. Dementia is a disease that affects many people across the globe, and if you’re wondering if it’s beginning to affect your family, don’t panic. There are simple steps you can take to ensure that you give your parents the best possible care.
Double Check Their Symptoms
First, the most important thing you can do for your parent is try not to overthink things. Make a mental list of what about their actions concerns you. Do they forget little things like where they left the TV remote, or are they confusing the names of their relatives? Depending on how severe their symptoms are, you’ll know if you should start looking into a potential clinic visit for them.
Once you know what their potential symptoms are, you should do research to be sure that what you think they have is what they actually might be suffering from. In regards to memory, dementia and Alzheimer’s are commonly confused. Dementia is the start of memory loss that, given time, will worsen into Alzheimer’s. If you’re not sure where your parent falls on the memory loss spectrum, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Talk With A Doctor
It’s important to be reminded that even if you’re worried and think you may be right, you need to talk with your parent and try to persuade them to go to a doctor. They may be forgetting certain things, but they’re still in control of their own medical care and have the right to decide if they should seek help or not.
However, sometimes the memory loss can affect a person’s ability to make judgement calls. If they say no and you still feel strongly about them visiting a doctor, make an appointment with their general practitioner. Talk with them about what’s happening and get their advice. The doctor make be able to make a house call to further assess your parent.
You can also get your parent’s doctor to call them and advise that they come in for a general checkup. Any potential memory loss issues can be discussed there. Talking with your doctor or local clinic can be the best thing for you to do, since they can advise you on whether an appointment should be made or not and direct you in what your next steps should be.
Evaluate Potential Risks
Whether you’ve made a doctor’s appointment for them or not, living with memory issues could be putting your parent in danger. Take some time to evaluate potential risks that might occur in their daily lives. Start by checking the smoke detectors in their home so that if they forget something on the stove or leave the iron on a piece of clothing, you’ll know that the alarms will alert the local fire station.
Also look into is whether they’re still able to drive safely. If they’re at risk of forgetting that a red light means stop or which pedal is for the brakes, then they’re not only a danger to themselves but to other people on the road. With their permission, get them re-tested at the DMV and have them come back every six months to a year. You should also look into your state’s laws about senior drivers getting their license renewed.
Look Into Care Options
You may feel the need to watch your parent and be with them as often as you can to prevent any accidents from happening. Some people can do this, but for others will full-time jobs, it’s next to impossible. If your parent lives alone, the need to be there with them is even stronger. Talk with your doctor to see if your parent should have a caregiver in the home to ensure their safety and wellbeing.
For those with more advanced dementia, you may have to move them into a retirement community or nursing home. It all depends on their mobility and the severity of their dementia. Ultimately, you need to talk with them if at all possible to get their opinion and permission, but if they’re unable to make a judgment for themselves, make the call that will put you both at ease the most.
When a parent starts to get older, you’ll see changes happening in both them and yourself that affect your relationship and lifestyle. If they begin to forget things, you may get concerned that they’re starting to suffer from some form of dementia. Part of growing old is not being able to remember things very well, but at a certain point, it’s smart to do some research and figure out if you should get an expert’s opinion.
Talk with your parent’s primary care doctor to see what’s going on and what could be the best possible move to keep them happy and healthy. And always remember that while you may want to do what’s best for your parent, they have a right to have a voice in what goes on in their life. Ultimately, it’s all about preserving your parent-child relationship, so keep all lines of communication open and work together as much as possible.