Tips and resources to help you throughout your caregiving journey

5 essential caregiver duties when caring for a parent with dementia

As a caring daughter or son, you want your parent to live well through their later years and your caregiver duties play an important role in this.

If your parent has a form of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease, then you know how difficult it can be for them to thrive alone without family members.

At this point in your parent’s life, having family and friends is essential for their emotional support and personal care.

Prioritizing your caregiver duties may seem overwhelming at times. After all, family caregivers have other responsibilities including work, personal chores, and perhaps parenting.

This article will explore how to succeed in your caregiver responsibilities. We’ll look at the five essential caregiver duties when caring for your parent with dementia as well as some tips to fit caregiving into your busy schedule.

1. Help and Encourage Them to Clean Their Space

Caregiver duties might include watering your parent's plants

A clean, organized home benefits the health care and safety of your parent with dementia. Aim for them to always have a comfortable space that promotes home health and well-being.

Here are some important reasons to practice light housekeeping as part of your caregiver role:

  • Doing house cleaning is a good opportunity for conversation and bonding. Your parent with dementia might not get out of the house as much as they used to. Let them count on you during this phase of their life. Social interaction will satisfy them and is healing for dementia.
  • Keeping the home clean for your parent will ensure both your and their comfort. Having a tidy space makes everything easier (and safer). For example, cooking, relaxing, and other activities become more pleasurable when everything is in its place. Plus, you can minimize the risk of any items being where they don’t belong (such as on the floor where someone can sip and fall).
  • Consider this: a clean home will help you get things done more quickly and efficiently. Since you most likely have a job and other areas of life to tend to, keeping your parent’s home tidy will help you feel more organized.
  • Incorporate cleaning as part of your weekly routine. Add it to your calendar for the same day(s) every week so you know when it’s coming. Let this be a self care tip for yourself — organization will ensure you don’t become overwhelmed during your busy week.
  • Cleaning gives you and your parent the opportunity to work together on something. Keep them nearby if their dementia is preventing them from fully engaging.
  • It’s best to use natural cleaning products when possible. Harsh chemicals in many conventional cleaners can be irritating to skin, eyes, nose, or lungs, and may even have adverse effects on brain health.

2. Suggest That Your Parent Moves Their Body Every Day

According to a report in The BMJ, many quality studies “strongly support the positive association between increased levels of physical activity, exercise participation, and improved health in older adults.”

To start, your parent can try getting some walking in every day as part of their care plan. Exercise doesn’t have to be vigorous. Aim for consistency. If they feel up to it, they can complete some form of moderate to intense exercise a few times a week. Here are some senior-friendly ideas:

Sports

Is your parent always talking about their collegiate athlete days? Sports are a great way to partake in moderate exercise on a consistent basis. They’re also ideal for keeping your parent motivated to stay moving in the first place.

Golf, basketball, tennis, and swimming are all ideal options for elderly people. The sport they can do may depend on the severity of their dementia, their financial status, and what is available in their community.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT is a form of exercise that may work for your parent depending on their current state of health. It involves completing exercises in repetitive intervals with little rest in between sets.

HIIT is an especially beneficial form of training due to its notable brain-enhancement properties. It’s been shown to increase endorphins in the brain, leading to feelings of wellness and overall contentedness.

Exercising in Nature

Whether it’s a sport, walking, or some other organized workout, your parent may choose to exercise in a natural setting. Doing so will provide immense emotional support.

It has been proven that spending time in “green spaces” is beneficial for stress reduction. A green space is any place that has notable amounts of grass, trees, running water, or wildlife.

Accomplishing this doesn’t have to mean taking long trips to remote nature locations. Walks to a local park, for example, can become one of your parent’s regular activities for optimal wellness.

3. Prioritize a Well-Rounded Diet

This one can be challenging. Your parent may love certain foods that are unhealthy. Maybe they don’t feel ready to give them up.

Overall, eating well is about balance. It’s about helping your parent revolve their diet around fruits and vegetables while giving them wiggle room for treats and their favorite foods (which may not be the healthiest).

It would be wise for them to eat plenty of whole grains and some low-mercury fish a couple of times a week.

Planning meals and snacks ahead of time is essential for both you and your parent. These 10 meal prep tips will save you time while ensuring optimal nutrition and consistency of good eating habits.

Portion control is another good reason to practice food preparation. We aren’t only what we eat, but how we eat. It’s important to help your parent eat proper amounts of food at an easy pace.

4. Connect Your Parent to Their Hobby

Elderly gentleman at the lake

Dementia can take a toll on your parent’s ability to thoroughly participate in their favorite activities and games. This decline can be difficult to watch, since your parent’s hobbies probably kept them enthusiastic and excited about life. Your aging parent’s happiness is still essential, especially since happiness in the elderly is correlated with longevity.

Conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease can cause your parent to neglect their hobbies. This is often because they simply cannot complete the activities they once enjoyed. With your support, they can return to participating in the hobbies they love.

To reconnect your parent to their interests, remain by their side if possible when they’re participating in them. They may need reminders and even physical help. Be patient with your parent to ensure their experience is as positive as possible.

5. Keep Them on Top of Taking Their Prescribed Medicines

Along with getting your mom and dad to doctor’s appointments, helping them remain consistent about taking prescribed medication is critical for their health and your success with in-home care.

Here are some helpful steps to ensure prescribed medications are taken as needed:

  1. Set medication reminders for yourself and your parent. Setting phone alarms with messages pertaining to medications is a sure way to stay on track.
  2. Get a pill organizer that allows you to place the medications in small compartments for each day of the week. Set this by your parent’s bedside so they’ll see it in the morning and before bed.
  3. Place a glass of water near their bed as a further reminder to take their pills before bed or when they wake up.

Caregiver Duties: Enjoy Time With Your Parent

 

Caregiver duties can help you bond with your parent

Approaching your caregiver duties with effective methods, a positive attitude, and a sense of love will energize your days and provide a greater sense of competence.

Your parent has reached a phase of life where they depend on your caregiver duties as well as your overall presence in their life.

That’s why it’s important to plan, stay organized, and remain motivated. Being a good caregiver is about completing your home care tasks on the basis of love.

What are your top caregiving priorities? What are some helpful tips you’ve learned along the way? We want to hear about you and your family members’ experiences.

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