There are many types of dementia. Alzheimer’s is the most common and well-known type. Alzheimer’s is estimated to account for up to 80% of all cases of dementia. Like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease (PD) is classified as a neurodegenerative disease. It occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough dopamine, the chemical required for smooth muscle movement.
As PD progresses, it can cause balance problems as well as tremors and rigidity in the limbs. Those are the symptoms most people associate with PD, but a lesser-known side effect of Parkinson’s is dementia.
Common during the later stages of PD, this aspect of the disease can be a challenge for family caregivers. Researchers believe up to 80% of adults with Parkinson’s will eventually develop dementia. As is true of other types of dementia, the condition can create unique safety issues.
Understanding Parkinson’s Dementia
The symptoms of Parkinson’s dementia are similar to other forms of dementia. While the disease impacts every person differently, the symptoms below are among the most common:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Anxiety and agitation
- Change in disposition
- Inability to carry on a conversation
- Insomnia and other sleep disorders
- Quick to anger or become tearful
- Difficulty finding the right words
- Loss of judgment
Supporting the Needs of an Adult with Parkinson’s
Unlike Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease impacts people at a younger age, usually around 60. The person might be towards the end of their career and looking forward to retirement when they are diagnosed. Some have kids in college. It’s a scenario that can lead to both physical and financial challenges for the entire family.
In the mid-to-late stages of the disease, families might find an adult day program meets the person’s needs during daytime hours. That can allow a spouse to continue working. Hiring an in-home caregiver might be another short-term solution to consider, especially if safety is a concern.
Other families turn to assisted living communities for support because they offer a variety of solutions. Short-term respite care at an assisted living for a week or two allows family caregivers to take a break. As their loved one’s needs increase, the transition to assisted living on a long-term basis goes more smoothly. The staff and the new resident are already familiar with each other.
Assisted living communities combine support with independence. An adult with PD can live in their own apartment knowing the support of caregivers is nearby. Caregivers also help with activities of daily living, such as bathing and grooming. They also provide medication management services. Healthy meals, housekeeping, laundry services, and transportation are included or available. Equally important is the wide range of daily life enrichment activities. That helps improve quality of life.
If an adult with PD develops dementia after moving to assisted living, they can transfer to the community’s specialized dementia care unit. These programs are designed to support the unique needs of people with dementia. From dedicated dining services to meaningful daily activities, memory care allows residents to live their best quality of life despite the disease.
If an adult in your family has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease or Parkinson’s dementia, we encourage you to call the Heritage Senior Community nearest you. One of our experienced team members can help you learn more about respite, assisted living, and specialized dementia care for your loved one.
My mom has been living alone the last five years since my dad passed. While she did well the first few years, her health has been declining over the last two. She lives in an older home with a lot of stairs, outdated bathrooms, and a detached garage set back from the house. It’s not a great environment for a senior who is struggling.
My husband and I help her as much as possible, but we both work full time. My worry is something will happen to her, and we won’t know until it’s too late. I’m also concerned that she is lonely and isolated. She deserves a better quality of life.
I would like to talk with my mom about moving to an assisted living community, but I’m not sure how to start the conversation. I really have no idea how she might feel about it. Do you have any advice?
Cindy in Holland, MI
Tips for Talking with an Aging Parent about Assisted Living
It sounds like your mom would be an ideal candidate for a move to an assisted living community. Too often we see families waiting for a crisis to occur before considering a move. Doing so overlooks how much an assisted living community has to offer, such as good nutrition, fitness opportunities, friendship, and the chance to participate in activities.
Take the following steps to learn about assisted living and to start the conversation with your mom:
- Learn about the benefits: Spend some time researching the benefits assisted living communities offer to residents. From safety features, like grab bars and barrier-free showers, to socialization, assisted living communities support an improved quality of life.
- Explore local options: Adult children may decide to visit local assisted living communities to see what is available. It will allow you to better understand pricing structure, availability, and each community’s unique personality. You can rule out those that aren’t a good fit. Once you talk with your mother about moving, you can visit communities that seem like the best options.
- Create talking points: Before you sit down with your mother, think through what you’ve learned about assisted living communities. How will this move allow your mom (and you) to enjoy a better quality of life? Also, consider potential roadblocks she may bring up. For example, is your mom likely to think it’s too expensive? Be prepared to talk through the cost of remaining at home—insurance, groceries, utilities, lawn care, snow removal, and more.
- Be realistic: It’s rare that a senior will agree to give up their home and move during a single conversation. Unless her safety is immediately at risk, this will likely be a series of conversations you have before your mom begins to visit communities. Forcing a timeline can result in her refusing to consider moving at all.
I hope these tips are helpful to you, Cindy! Please let me know if you have any more questions.
Heritage Senior Communities in Michigan and Indiana
A family-owned senior living company for over 25 years, Heritage owns and operates senior communities throughout Michigan and Indiana. Learn more by calling the location nearest you today!
My dad’s health has been gradually declining over the past few years. During that time, my husband, children, and I have been helping him out around the house and with transportation. I’ve also started preparing most of his meals. It’s become a near full-time role for me.
While we’ve managed so far, my siblings are always complaining about what I do and don’t do for my dad. Both live nearby but neither one pitches in to help. It’s causing friction between my husband and I as he sees the physical and emotional toll it’s taking on me.
The time has come to have an honest discussion with my siblings about their behavior and lack of support. I’m just not sure how to do that. Do you have any advice?
Sophia in Grand Haven, MI
Working Together to Support an Aging Parent
First, know that we often hear from others in the same situation. Watching a parent’s decline stirs up difficult and complex emotions. In many families, one sibling shoulders the primary responsibilities of caregiving. That said, it doesn’t make your situation any easier. But I have a few suggestions that might be useful.
- Create a current task list: List the tasks and errands your family helps your father with. It’s probably a good idea to separate these items by frequency. Make a column for daily tasks like assisting your dad with his showers and a column for weekly chores like lawn care. A third column can be used for intermittent tasks like transportation and snow removal.
- Make a to-do list: Also make a list of items that you haven’t gotten around to. This can include household maintenance like painting the front door or fixing a broken handle.
- Share responsibilities: Think through everything you do for your father. Which tasks do you want to continue doing? Which would you like help with? Your siblings may even need to take over for a while if you and your husband need a break.
- Schedule a family meeting: Once you have organized your thoughts and needs, you and your husband should meet with your siblings. It may help to email them the list of chores you created. Let them know you are looking to work together to split up the responsibilities more equitably.
- Invite an unbiased advisor: Some families find it useful to enlist the services of an aging life care professional. They can mediate family disagreements and assist in hiring and supervising in-home care professionals. Also known as geriatric care managers, they are experts in navigating the search for a senior living community.
One final suggestion is to consider a week or two of respite care at an assisted living center for your father. He might enjoy having caregivers nearby 24/7 and the opportunity to socialize with his peers. The break will also give you time to work through the situation with your siblings.
I hope this is helpful, Sophia! Please feel free to contact me or a member of one of our local Heritage communities if you have any questions!
Mother’s Day is a holiday that began in 1908 by a West Virginia daughter. Her goal was to honor her activist mother, Anna Jarvis, and her commitment to teaching women how to properly care for their children. Over the years, Mother’s Day has evolved. On the second Sunday in May each year, we celebrate mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and other women who make a difference in their families’ lives.
As the holiday approaches, we want to share some ideas to help you honor the women in your family with unique and memorable gifts.
Mother’s Day Gift Ideas
- Quilt kit: Art projects are good for the mind and spirit. A senior in your family might appreciate a quilt kit she can use to create her very own masterpiece. They are available in a variety of styles, sizes, and prices. You can easily find kits for beginners. Etsy is a great resource to explore.
- Storytime video chat: When families are separated by a long distance, a tablet device can make it easier to connect. If your children or grandchildren are younger, they might enjoy showing off their reading skills for a grandmother. You can use a free platform like Skype or Zoom. If finances permit, purchase a system like GrandCare to enjoy story time across the miles. Borrow or purchase two copies of a book for the senior and the kids to read together. Experience gifts like this are priceless to older loved ones and children alike.
- Homemade coupon book: Another unique and personalized gift is to create a coupon book. A senior can trade in coupons for time with family or help with projects. Ask each family member to come up with a coupon or two. Maybe a tech-savvy grandchild can create a coupon to help their grandmother set up a new streaming service or learn how to use Alexa. Another loved one might add a coupon for a family movie night or girls’ lunch. Be creative in coming up with ideas and experiences that match the senior’s hobbies and interests.
- Handcrafted gift: While indulgence gifts like expensive jewelry are nice, don’t overlook how heartwarming handmade Mother’s Day presents can be. You can purchase craft kits at a local hobby store for yourself or the grandchildren to use. You’ll find options ranging from stained glass kits to packages with everything needed to make a garden stepping stone. These make memorable presents for a senior loved one.
Finally, creating a family cookbook is another memorable gift idea for Mother’s Day. The whole family can get involved by contributing their favorite recipes. How to Create a Family Cookbook in Honor of Mother’s Day shares advice and resources to make it easier to get started!