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7 Things to Do When a Parent Is Diagnosed With Dementia

7 Things to Do When a Parent Is Diagnosed With Dementia

Finding out your parent or loved one has been diagnosed with dementia can be shocking, overwhelming, and extremely challenging to cope with. The following tips on how to deal with a dementia diagnosis will help you and your parent reduce stress, improve quality of life, and prepare for the future.

  1. Talk with doctors about their diagnosis and available treatment options: Understanding your parent’s diagnosis is important so that you can choose the best treatment for their needs. The more information you have, the easier it is for you to help your parent with dementia. Talk with their doctor about their stage of disease, their symptoms, and how you can improve their quality of life. Unfortunately, there is no cure for dementia, but certain specialized treatments, therapeutic activities, and lifestyle changes, like exercise and a brain-healthy diet, may slow the progression of dementia and alleviate symptoms.
  2. Learn more about common dementia behaviors: Find out how dementia can affect your parent, what changes you can expect, and how to help them maintain dignity and quality of life. Dementia may cause your loved one to act out of character and display behaviors you might find upsetting or difficult to manage, such as aggression, confusion, and manipulation. It’s important to learn effective coping strategies so that you react productively and de-escalate the situation.
  3. Make their home safe: Making sure your parent’s home is safe and accessible can help prevent falls or injuries and help them feel secure in their surroundings when they get confused. Eliminate potential fall hazards, such as uneven rugs, electrical cords, or broken floorboards. Make sure that fire and carbon monoxide alarms are installed and in working order, install adequate lighting, and keep everyday items within reach and easily accessible.
  4. Organize legal documents and finances: Before your parent’s symptoms worsen, meet with a lawyer to ensure their estate planning documents, such as a will, power of attorney, and living well, are up-to-date. If you are your parent’s power of attorney, you will need access to vital information regarding their finances, such as account numbers, passwords, a list of monthly bills, and sources of income. Gather and organize important documents, such as car titles, house deeds, and insurance policies, so that they are easily accessible when needed.
  5. Learn about support options: If you are a caregiver to a parent with dementia, it’s important to remember to care for yourself, as well. Join support groups for family members of people with dementia, visit online forums to share your experiences with others, or consider home health care or respite care if you are feeling overwhelmed with your caregiving duties. If you are experiencing any mental health struggles from the added stress, such as depression or anxiety, you may benefit from talking to a therapist to learn how to effectively cope with your emotions.
  6. Plan safe, fun activities: Keeping your parent active and engaged is beneficial for their health and cognitive well-being. Loneliness, boredom, and lethargy will only exacerbate dementia symptoms such as agitation and withdrawal. Daily activities to stimulate your parent’s mind and keep them physically active will improve their mood, memory, and focus. Try simple puzzles and games, make crafts, listen to music, cook or bake, spend time with animals, or visit familiar places of interest where they’ve made memories.
  7. Plan for the future: Your loved one will eventually need more help as their dementia progresses. Ask for help from other family members, enlist a home aide or respite care, or start researching memory care communities to care for your parent when you are no longer able. These specialized communities can provide your parent with round-the-clock supervision and gentle care with specially trained professionals.

Our Memory Care Communities

Christian Health offers supportive, compassionate care for people with cognitive difficulties of varying severity caused by dementia at several memory care communities on our Wyckoff campus.

Courtyard at Longview: At the Courtyard at Longview, those with early-stage dementia thrive in a community that prioritizes safety and comfort while promoting independence and social interaction.

To learn more about Courtyard, please contact Victoria Durante, Director of Admissions, at (201) 848-4303 or or take a virtual tour.

Heritage Manor: Heritage Manor, our skilled-nursing community, offers compassionate, individualized, multidisciplinary care to meet various unique needs of older adults, including memory care. Our team members are specially trained to care for patients with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, consistently ensuring their comfort, security, and well-being.

To learn more about Heritage Manor, please call (201) 848-5855 or take a virtual tour.

Southgate Special Care: Southgate Special Care’s healing, therapeutic environment provides compassionate care for older adults with behavioral disturbances associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia – one of only four similarly licensed communities in the state of New Jersey.

To learn more about Southgate Special Care, please call (201) 848-5855, send an email to, or take a virtual tour.

Ramapo Ridge Behavioral Health: Ramapo Ridge, Our inpatient mental health hospital, provides behavioral health services for older adults struggling with mental health disturbances caused by dementia. The program has a Disease-Specific Care Certificate of Distinction for Dementia from The Joint Commission and offers specialized therapeutic activities, such as Snoezelen therapy, a multisensory therapy that uses light, aroma, and sound to produce calming effects.

To learn more about Ramapo Ridge, please call (201) 848-5500.