All Posts Dementia

When A Parent Moves In

What should you do when the time comes that your parents have to move in with you?

Well first, Make your home their home

It might be inconvenient to you that they have to move in with you, but think about how they feel. Their independence and home has just been ripped from them. They may need more emotional support than you think. – and – you need to help them get used to living in a new environment. Take care to give them a tour of the place and remind them often of where things are that they might need for daily care, like things for hygiene, food items, where the cleaning clothing are kept and where the dirty laundry baskets are set up at. 

Label household items to help them find things they may need.

Right along those lines, think about investing in a label maker to help them find the things that they need. You can label cupboards in the kitchen, lightswitches, bathroom cabinets, dresser drawers, and everything else

(laughing) bonus tip – be sure to always put the dirty laundry basket far away from where the clean laundry is kept or you will forever be wondering why they are wearing dirty clothes. 

Keep ready-to-eat food available for snacks and meals they can make themselves

You should definitely cook or otherwise provide most meals for your parent, but you should also keep food that they like and will eat available for snacks or when you aren’t paying enough attention to what time it is. 

I know that I personally can work right through lunch and not even notice but my dad definitely does notice and he needs to eat during that time. Please keep in mind what your parent can and cannot fix for themselves, though. My dad can no longer put a sandwich together on his own, so I make it for him in advance if I know that he will be on his own for lunch that day. 

Provide puzzles and other enrichment to round out their day

This is one thing that I didn’t think about nearly enough until recently but it is absolutely vital to the mental health and emotional wellbeing of your parent or loved one. As their world gets smaller, they stop doing all of the things that they would normally do. Especially once they move into your house and you are doing the majority of the cooking, cleaning, and running of the household. 

The awesome thing is that there are plenty of dementia specific activities available on Amazon. There are dementia specific puzzles, word searches, watercolor painting, and games. There are even phones, radios, alarm clocks, video cameras, mp3 players, and tablets specifically made for people with dementia. We truly do live in the future. 

Nutrition is SO important

Along with providing enrichment for their mental health, you also should be providing them with enrichment for their physical health. You should encourage them to eat as many fruits and vegetables as you can. Even if they are canned fruits and veggies, it is better than nothing. Applesauce or guacamole is better than nothing. Homemade banana muffins made with twice the bananas are better than nothing. Oatmeal with a handful of raisins is better than nothing. The farther along in the disease they get, the less they will eat, but trying to get them to eat as many healthy foods as you can will benefit them so much in the long run. 

Along with that, you should also take them to the doctor for a complete nutrition check up and supplement whatever they are low in. Dental health and UTIs are 2 other things that can cause you loved one to get drastically worse so be sure to keep an eye out for signs of UTIs and get them any dental work that they need right away. You don’t want something preventable to make your loved one get worse faster. 

You also need to have them exercise every day! 30 minutes of activity at least. This could be a gentle walk outside, or on a treadmill, gardening, helping to clean the house, walking around inside the house, doing arm exercises, doing physical therapy exercises, swimming, and lots more. But they need to get moving for at least 30 minutes a day. On their feet if they can make it. On their feet will give them the most benefits, by far. 

You have to organize for them

If you want your loved one to benefit fully from you purchasing activities for them and you prepping their meals and snacks to keep them from starving, you have to stay organized for them. Buy a pack of 10 sterilite 6 quart containers to keep each activity separate from the rest, and to keep all of the pieces for each one together. Have scheduled activity time, at least for the first couple of months, until they have a grasp on the concepts and can remember how to access the activities without your help, and until they have the motivation to do so by themselves, if ever. But if they never take that leap you should still do at least one activity per day with them, if only for 5 minutes. 

You should organize their food in a way that makes them easily accessible. Put the snacks that you want them to eat in their way so that they are much more likely to go with that. Put snacks and fresh fruit in a basket on the dining room table or kitchen counter and repeatedly encourage your parent to snack from the basket when they are hungry for the first month or so. You could also keep snacks in a basket in the fridge and label favorite drinks with their name so that there is no confusion about what your loved one can eat. You may not understand why, but their anxiety may tell them that since it is your house that they cannot eat your food, and they may start to eat less and less. Buy special snacks and foods and drinks that your parent loves and encourage them to eat whatever they want in the house every single day. 

That goes for everything, to be honest. Encourage them to make themselves at home every single day. Remind them to shower and change clothes in a gentle way by making a big deal about how much you love being able to help them out and – you guessed it- help them do their laundry. Just a little tidbit for ya. 

Be realistic about how much care your loved one needs. 

Be sure to watch them very closely to evaluate how their needs change. 

Make them dry erase check lists 

If I could describe dementia it would be this: write every ability you have from plugging your phone into the charger to washing your hair in the shower to making a sandwich to starting your car on a whiteboard. Now, once a month, erase 10 things. Some months you won’t even notice what you erased because it won’t be information that you use every day. But then some months you would lose some pretty big chunks of your life. 

So, just be sure to check in with them often to see what their abilities are. You should also see about making them dry erase lists for the things that they need. Include their hygiene items like soap, shampoo, razors, etc. and their favorite snack items. You should also check every few months for less commonly used items like pillows, sheets, towels, clothing, etc. 

Take Time For Yourself

Yep, you guessed this last one! Seriously, you HAVE to take time for yourself. If you work at home, look into an adult day program in your area, even if you only take them once a month. You NEED that once a month. Or have a sibling or neighbor come in for several hours as often as possible. Seriously. Caring for someone with dementia has to be one of the hardest jobs, right after caring for toddlers. You have to always be on, 24/7. A lot of times they will even follow you around in your own home! I get it. So, make time for yourself. Also, make time for your significant other. Remember that this is hard for them, too. A dedicated date night is never a bad idea. Neither is making a rule that after a certain time you close your bedroom door and neither of you come out until morning, unless it is an emergency. Find a way to get the time in together to keep your relationship strong. Take a bath more often, write in your journal, and bitch to your best friend as much as you can. You deserve it. 

Thanks for much for taking the time to watch this video on learning to care for someone with dementia. Make sure you hit the like and subscribe and hit that bell. Then, comment down below if you think that there is anything that i missed about taking care of dementia. I’ll be sure to comment back. Have a fabulous day. 

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