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Have you ever felt lost? So very alone? And extremely afraid?

I have.

When I was twelve, my life changed overnight.

I was placed in boarding school. I felt abandoned.

I know you might wonder, what does boarding school and dementia have to do with one


A lot more than you would think!

Almost 50% of people living in a nursing home have dementia.

And nursing homes are like boarding schools for old people.

Imagine you wake up one morning. You are someplace you don’t recognize. It doesn’t feel the same as home. It doesn’t sound the same as home. It doesn’t smell the same as home.

The people living with you are not “your” people. They are unfamiliar. They don’t know you.

Your habits. Your preferences. Your life.

And now you live by THEIR rules.

That was how I felt when I was placed in a boarding school at twelve.

When people living with dementia are placed in a nursing home, I have seen that they

experience exactly what I did when I was placed in boarding school.

The feeling of being lost. Feelings of being all alone in the world. Feeling very afraid.

Feeling abandoned.

Does your parent have dementia?

Do you feel that ultimately will not have a choice but to “place them in a nursing home”?

I want to tell you that is a lie! It doesn’t have to be that way.

5 Steps for Children of Dementia to Care for Parents at Home 2

Here are a few scary statistics about nursing homes:

29% of people living in nursing homes have sustained some sort of physical abuse.

22% have endured resident on resident sexual or physical abuse.

7% have suffered sexual abuse.

How do you help your parent with dementia stay out of a nursing home?

You have a plan.

5 Steps to Effective Dementia Care for Parents at Home

1. When you find out your parent has dementia, the first thing you need to do is take a breath.

It changes your life, but doesn’t need to ruin your life.

2. Next you make a decision.

I know that sounds simple, but what do I mean? Caring for dementia starts with YOU. What are you willing or not willing to do? If you are married, it affects your spouse. If you have children, it affects your children. And it affects you. If you have siblings, it affects them too.

We cannot start with what your parent wants (we consider it for sure), but we need to start with YOU. Why? Because you are the person who is caring for them, and dementia is a marathon, not a sprint.

3. Then we make a plan.

I know it sounds simple, doesn’t it. But it isn’t! How do I know? Because I have felt what you feel. Immobilized with wondering what is the right plan. Immobilized by decision fatigue (yours AND theirs!). Immobilized by feeling like I don’t know what to do next. Despite those feelings, we make a plan. How? By knowing our ultimate outcome.

Do you want your loved one to stay at home? And what does that mean to you? Their home? Your home? By just knowing our desired outcome, we can step by step make a plan with, and for them, as each change during their dementia journey occurs. We just need to keep our ultimate outcome of staying at home in the forefront of our mind.

4. Now it is time to implement.

If you are anything like me, sometimes it is difficult to implement a plan, because I start to second-guess myself! But it doesn’t have to be that way. Trust yourself. You know your loved one. You know yourself. You got this.

5. Then comes the next simple step.

You either modify or maintain your plan. For a while during a dementia journey, things stay pretty much the same. During this time, you are constantly modifying or maintaining what you are doing. If it is working, we maintain.

If it stops working, we modify the plan, the strategies, and the techniques. Still keeping our ultimate outcome in mind: keeping our parent with dementia at home, for life.

Conclusion: Dementia Care for Parents at Home

Following this simple 5 step plan will help you keep your parent with dementia at home, for life. All while preventing them from feeling lost.

Feeling alone. From feeling scared.

From feeling abandoned.

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About the author

“Think Different” Dementia’s owner, Lizette Cloete, OTR/L graduated as an Occupational Therapist from the University of Pretoria in South Africa in 1992. Lizette has almost 30 years of experience as an Occupational Therapist in a variety of settings, the latest being in the home health environment. She enjoys teaching on the topic of dementia, most recently presenting at a national conference on the topic “Dementia Made Simple”.

Disclaimer: These blogs, videos and any work done by Lizette Cloete OT, as a Member of Think Different Dementia, LLC, is given only as educational content and consulting work. This does not create an Occupational Therapist-Patient Relationship. The educational content and consulting work performed should not be considered medical treatment as an Occupational Therapist. The consulting work does not take the place of medical work normally performed by a licensed Occupational Therapist. Please consult a licensed Occupational Therapist for medical advice.

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