How Can You Help A Parent With Dementia When You Live Far Away?

Dementia can make it difficult for your mother or father to live on their own. If you don’t live close to them, you may be struggling with figuring out how you can make their life easier and ensure that they are safe and taken care of at all times. Fortunately, there are some ways that you can help a parent with dementia even if you live far away.

Call Them Frequently

Your parent will appreciate you calling them on a frequent basis. It’s a great time for you to catch up, and you will get a lot of peace-of-mind from just hearing your parent’s voice. Even if they have advanced dementia and don’t always remember who you are, they will often still appreciate the fact that they have someone to talk to on the phone. Social interaction can greatly improve mood.

Set Up Home Care

It’s not uncommon for those with dementia to struggle with performing basic tasks. This is why it may be necessary to hire home care. They can help your parents with grooming and hygiene. They can also prepare their meals and do some basic cleaning tasks in order to keep your parent’s home a safe place for them to live.

Have Groceries Delivered to Their House

Many individuals with dementia can no longer drive. Because of this, it can be difficult for them to find a way to get to the grocery store to purchase the food and household items that they are in need of. You can help them by setting up grocery delivery for them. If you feel as if they will struggle with putting their groceries away, you can always schedule delivery around the time that they will have the person providing them with home care at their home.

Arrange for a Neighbor to Check on Them

When you have a parent that is dealing with dementia, you will find that befriending their neighbors can be extremely helpful. When you visit your parents, get to know their friends and neighbors too. You can ask them to check on your parents on a regular basis. Ask them to call you if they notice something doesn’t seem right.

Read

One of the most well-known symptoms of dementia is memory loss. While your parent’s doctor will likely prescribe them medication to help delay or slow memory loss, there are some things you can do to help your parent exercise their mind to keep it strong for as long as possible. 

Get a collection of reading materials, such as novels and short stories, that your elderly parent is interested in. Encourage them to read as often as possible. You can read the book along with them and discuss its contents with your parent. If they are unable to read on their own, you could read it to them on phone or video calls or help them use audiobooks. Reading helps to keep the brain alert because it involves predicting or responding to the events in the story.

Play Board Games

Board games, such as chess and Scrabble, can also be helpful in preventing your elderly parent from losing their memory quickly. Board games require different forms of critical thinking. For example, one needs to think hard in order to form words from the letter tiles used when playing Scrabble. Engaging in those games will therefore keep the elderly parent alert mentally because the brain will always be exercised during those games.

Many different versions of these and similar games are available online, so you can play long-distance with your parent. Find a user friendly platform that is easy for them to operate if they struggle with technology.

Arrange Dance Lessons

Dancing is a fun activity that can produce cognitive health dividends because it requires concentration to remember the different steps required in a particular type of dance, such as the waltz. If your parents used to enjoy dancing, you could arrange for them to attend a dance class. Just remember that many elderly people have some form of mobility challenge. Avoid making your parents overexert themselves or engage in dance that is too intensive. You don’t want them straining themselves or slipping and falling. 

Dancing is a good exercise because it low impact and allows participants to move at their own pace or ability level. In addition to improving memory, dancing also is a great way to encourage social interaction and improve mood.

Play Musical Instruments

You should also encourage your elderly parent to continue playing their favourite musical instrument, such as the piano. Try to get them to learn how to play a musical instrument if they don’t know how to play any instrument. Musical instruments are mentally and physically stimulating. Consequently, mental and physical decline can be slowed down by this activity. You might choose a simple piece that both of you can practice on your own so that you can play the piece together when you visit. In between visits, you can use video calls to play together.

While it can be difficult to be far away when you have a parent that has dementia, you will find that there are still plenty of things that you can do to help out. Giving them opportunities to interact with you and others can help reduce depression, which can worsen the symptoms of dementia. Stimulating the mind can help slow memory loss and other symptoms. The most important thing is that you build a support system for both you and your aging parent so that you both can get the help that you need.

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