When family caregiving follows you to work. Part 8 of 9

When family caregiving follows you to work. Part 8 of 9

A nine-part series for family caregivers and employers. When family caregiving roles conflict with work and career obligations.

Part 8 of 9: The last question we answered is continued here.

Q. My father seems to be getting forgetful and will occasionally think I am his sister rather than his daughter. He is very strong-willed and has traditional masculine values, so he won’t admit to needing any sort of treatment or help. How can I help him understand we are on the same team?

A. The last time, we discussed the first two letters of DEMENTIA. What we are trying to accomplish is to use the dementia mnemonic to explore and understand how to support the medical professionals to appropriately screen and treat older adults who may seem demented from treatable medical conditions that manifest as cognitive impairment.

  • M is for metabolic. Are there metabolic reasons such as abnormal calcium, magnesium or sodium levels that are causing his memory lapse? If you can monitor your dad’s medication compliance and his nutritional intake, that can help the doctors to help him.

  • The second E is for endocrine. Does your dad suffer from diabetes or any other endocrine disorders, such as thyroid abnormality? An abnormal functioning thyroid can cause cognitive impairment.

  • N is for normal pressure hydrocephalus. Normal pressure hydrocephalus is a brain disorder in which excess cerebrospinal fluid accumulates in the brain, causing thinking and reasoning problems, difficulty walking and loss of bladder control. What you would want to consider doing is keeping a small notebook of your observations, especially when you visit your dad.

    When you visit your parents, look around to estimate their nutritional status and then have conversations with “I” statements so that you are communicating from a place of concern rather than from a place of dictating or pointing out their difficulties and/or challenges. If you say, “Dad, I am worried that something is wrong because some of your words are coming out wrong, like you called me your sister instead of your daughter, so I want us to call the doctor to look over your medications.”

    If I can be of assistance, please call or email me anytime.