How do you deal with a parent who has dementia and doesn't remember you?

July 4, 2024 - Reading time: 6 minutes

Dealing with a dementia-affected parent who does not recognise you can be emotionally exhausting. Here are some ideas that may assist you in managing this situation:

Acceptance and understanding:

Recognise that your parent's inability to recognise you is the result of the sickness, not a decision or intentional behaviour. Understand that this is a common and sad symptom of dementia.

Maintain a relationship:

Despite their inability to recognise you, maintain a connection with your parents. Focus on the emotional connection rather than relying on memory or acceptance. Comfort and affection can be expressed through gentle touch, smiling, and maintaining eye contact.

Communication techniques:

When speaking with your parent, use positive body language, a calm tone of voice, and simple, plain language phrases. If they display confusion or misinterpret your identity, avoid correcting or disputing them. Instead, go along with their reality to maintain their comfort and avoid causing distress.

Shared activities:

Engage in activities that your parents enjoy or used to enjoy. Simple activities like looking through photo albums, listening to familiar music, or going for gentle walks can help create a connection and trigger positive memories.

Be patient and adaptable:

Remain patient, even when faced with repetitive questions or behaviours. Understand that your parent's cognitive abilities may fluctuate, and their ability to recognise you may change from moment to moment. Be prepared to adapt your approach based on their conditions and needs.

Seek support:

Connect with dementia support groups or organisations that specialise in dementia care. Sharing experiences and knowledge with others in similar situations can be helpful and provide emotional support. Additionally, consider consulting healthcare professionals who can provide guidance and resources specific to your parent's condition.

Take care of yourself:

Providing care for a parent with dementia can be physically and emotionally demanding. Ensure you prioritise self-care by seeking respite, leaning on support systems, and accessing professional help if needed. Caring for your well-being will make it easier for you to support your parents effectively.

Remember, dementia is a progressive disease, and the symptoms will likely worsen over time. It can be helpful to learn more about dementia to better understand what your parent is experiencing and to adjust your expectations accordingly.


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