Memory Mondays: What to Do If You Think Your Parent Has Dementia

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Wondering what to do if you think your parent has dementia? Talking with parents about potential symptoms can be a challenge. But a difficult conversation now may result in an early diagnosis and improved care later.

Keep these tips in mind as you navigate what to do if you think your parent has dementia.

– Recognize early dementia symptoms: First and foremost, you must have an idea about early dementia symptoms before confronting your parent with a suspicion that they have dementia. Some early signs include confusion with place or time, memory loss that disrupts daily life, behavioral changes and new problems with communication.

– Talk to your parent as soon as possible: When you see the signs of dementia in a parent or loved one, it’s crucial to talk to them before more severe symptoms begin to occur. Think about who the best person to have this conversation is. And remember, the discussion may not go exactly as planned, so don’t force things. You can always try again another time.

– Offer support: Hearing your thoughts can feel overwhelming for your parent. Seeing doctors about the changes they may be experiencing can feel that way, too. Make sure your loved one knows you’re there for them and can go to appointments with them.

– Remind your loved one of the positives. Having someone tell you they suspect you may have dementia is not easy to receive. Understand this, but also try to put forth the positives. The first signs of mild cognitive symptoms might stem from something unrelated to dementia, for example. But if it is dementia, an early diagnosis allows the person in question to be more involved in planning for their future, their family, their finances and their care.

Figuring out what to do if you think your parent has dementia is stressful and scary. However, approaching it calmly and early may lead to more encouraging outcomes than otherwise.