Watching an aging parent with dementia slowly decline can be painful, and when that cognitive impairment directly affects your relationship with them it’s even worse. It’s not uncommon for seniors in the later stages of dementia to totally stop recognizing and remembering others, including their own adult children and grandchildren.
Not only is this frustrating for you, not recognizing you while in their home can cause your loved one to get agitated, paranoid and even combative. Fortunately, there are several reliable ways to help an aging parent with dementia remember who you are, starting with these.
Why Can’t They Recognize Me?
In addition to affecting the brain’s memory center, dementia induces other physiological changes. Certain medications prescribed for Alzheimer’s and dementia can also cause side effects that alter patient cognition. Mom or dad may not be able to recognize who you are for one or more of the following reasons:
Dementia targets different parts of the human brain, including ones involved in facial recognition and information recall. This is usually the primary reason why a dementia patient can’t remember names and events.
Because getting someone who has dementia to the eye doctor can be a major undertaking, many patients live with significant vision changes that go unnoticed. As a result, it’s possible that your parent doesn’t recognize you because they can’t see your face clearly.
Infections and medication interactions can trigger episodes of delirium, which is an abrupt change in the brain that causes mental confusion and emotional distress. The resulting delirium makes it very hard to think, pay attention, sleep or remember.
Paranoia and Delusions
For someone with dementia, psychological changes can occur that induce irrational thoughts and feelings, causing them to fear and distrust you. For example, mom may accuse you of stealing from her when it’s totally untrue.
Helping an Aging Parent with Dementia Remember
Assisting someone with dementia can be like a daily rollercoaster ride, and the unexpected becomes routine. If you’re trying to help a parent stay in their home, it can get frustrating when they forget who you even are, and why you’re there. To help them remember, try these tips:
Gently Remind Them
If mom’s having a bad day and can’t recall your name, gently remind her by saying, “Hi mom. I’m your daughter Silvia and I’m here to help take care of you.” The goal is to decrease mom’s anxiety and worries, not make them worse. If she gets agitated about something you’ve said, try changing the subject or singing her favorite song with her.
A person with dementia can get frustrated as their memory goes in and out. Show empathy towards your parent by reassuring them they are loved and that everything is going to be O.K. Let them know that the changes they’re going through are not their fault, and that you understand.
Share old pictures of family and friends, including ones from your childhood, while enjoying some good times and laughs together. Doing so will probably trigger more old memories, and maybe even some recent ones.
Try Validation Therapy
If your dad thinks that you’re his deceased sister, ask him to tell you all about her, what she looked like, and what he loved most about her. Give him the chance to share his memories instead of trying to make him remember who you are.
Seek Medical Intervention
When your parent’s behavior is becoming dangerous for you both, contact their physician. A doctor may be able to prescribe medications or other treatments to address the underlying cause of the erratic behaviors.
Studies have found that the positive feelings experienced by someone with dementia last long after the memory of your visit itself. It’s important to know that even if your loved one can’t remember who you are, spending quality time with them can still be beneficial for you both!
Compassionate In-Home Care for Seniors in Manatee County, FL
Providing in-home care for an aging parent with dementia can seem overwhelming, especially when you live far away. When you need a break, call First In Care. As a fully licensed and insured home care agency, our highly trained caregivers can provide your loved one with the compassionate care they deserve to keep them aging in place right where they want to be. To help further ensure your senior’s quality of life, we have registered nurses on call 24/7.
While in the home, our carefully screened aides can provide daily living assistance like light housework, personal hygiene, medication reminders, meals, transportation and companionship. And, all our senior home care services can be flexibly tailored in an affordable package to put your mind at ease. To schedule a FREE, in-home care assessment with First In Care in the Manatee County, FL, area, please visit: www.firstincare.com now!