Your parents mean everything to you, and more. And when one of your aging parents receives a dementia diagnosis, the news can send your heart to the pit of your stomach in utter despair. Today, there is no cure for dementia, a progressive disease that will get worse with time. However, you will also learn that you have time together still. Time to form new memories, bold, brave, beautiful memories. What you and your mother or father do with that time can make all the difference in the world.
One reality that many families must face head-on is the need for an assisted living home that offers memory care services. You cannot care for your parent alone, and adult children who try often end of overwhelmed, stressed, and bitter. Fortunately, there are teams of experts that dedicate their time to caring for Alzheimer’s patients. In fact, 64% of nursing home residents over the age of 65 have been diagnosed with dementia of some kind, and memory care centers are better equipped than anyone to care for your aging parent. Still, if appropriate, make this decision together. It will open up your relationship so you’ll both be able to enjoy the remaining time you have with each other.
Don’t let a somber diagnosis stop you and your parent from living to the fullest. You have plenty of time to have fun and take part in stimulating and constructive activities. What games did you play when you were younger? Any card games or board games that require mental activity can be beneficial for reinforcing neural connectivity, as well as putting a smile on both of your faces.
In addition, remember that the best nursing homes also plan activities that will stimulate their residents’ minds and bodies. These activities can include age-appropriate fitness, art classes, visits to nearby attractions, and so much more. It is important to seek out opportunities to stay active together, whether that’s a visit to an art museum or a family game night.
Living with Alzheimers will not be easy, but being at your parent’s side through it all will give them courage. The courage that they once gave you as a child; courage that they continue to give you now. This experience may even bring you closer together, as you will learn so much about your parent going forward. Things like how they knew you were sneaking cookies in the middle of the night, or how they were always at your track meet, even if you didn’t want them to come at the time. You’ll learn about their life, and you will tell them about yours. Share memories together as you build new ones, even if other memories are fading away. It is a bittersweet time, to be sure, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of it.