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How to Approach Senior Care for a Loved One with a Memory Loss

How to Approach Senior Care for a Loved One with a Memory LossBringing up the topic of senior care support with a loved one can difficult, but the situation is even more fraught when that person suffers from a mental health issue, such as memory loss. Many family caregivers are left wondering how to approach the subject, worried about upsetting their elderly parent, or even fearful of an irrational or violent reaction. Unfortunately, this is by no means an unusual situation. According to a report by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, between 14-20% of the nation’s senior population have one or more mental health issues, including dementia-related symptoms.

So how should caregivers bring up the need for senior care?
Experienced professionals advise adult children of seniors with a memory loss to seek out resources and support for themselves. Managing an elderly parent with dementia is emotionally taxing. Sometimes speaking with a therapist can help adult children create a plan for addressing issues with an elderly parent. Also, support groups can help you connect with others in the same situation.

Strategies for Having the Tough Conversation
If your parent’s mental illness is beyond your capacity to provide home care, then how should you let them know they need additional senior care? Here are some tips that can help you start a difficult discussion:

1. Make sure they are taking their medication.
Facing a mental disorder can be very stressful for an elderly parent and so every effort to lower anxiety should be considered.

2. Choose a time when both of you are calm.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “This will make it easier for you and your loved one to listen to each other and speak your minds.” Then, explain your needs, stress the benefits of care — and be prepared to compromise.

3. Take resistance in stride.
When it occurs, shift the conversation to less inflammatory aspects of your concerns. Threats or emotional outbursts will only add anxiety and shut down communication. Remember not to take outbursts personally and know that they often stem from fear of the unknown.

4. If at first you don’t succeed, try again.
Your loved one may not want to discuss the topic when you first bring it up, the Mayo Clinic advises trying again later. The same goes for conversations that go wrong. If you feel yourself becoming emotional, the best advice is to take a break from the conversation and choose another time to discuss the topic.

5. Get the paperwork you need to properly care for your loved one.
In cases where an elderly parent is a danger to themselves or others, adult children may want to acquire a medical power of attorney for their elderly parent so they can make medical decisions on their behalf.

The Importance of Proper Care for Loved Ones with Memory Loss
Bringing up care for seniors with memory loss is a scary prospect, but the risks of leaving our loved ones without proper care are far more severe than any potential conversational blowups. According to the Institute of Medicine report, untreated mental health conditions lead to poorer physical health outcomes, higher costs, and longer hospital stays.

To mom or dad, accepting care, or moving to an assisted living resort, may seem like giving up their independence, but getting professional help may in fact increase their ability to live a normal life. Even if they do lose some independence, loss of independence isn’t a personal failing. Experienced, and caring staff at assisted living resorts are able to help your loved one stay active, maintain relationships with caring friends and family and develop new physically appropriate interests. In the end, your ability to keep them involved in their own living and care decisions may help them feel more comfortable about taking a new step in the right direction.

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