Alzheimer’s and Dealing With Aging Parents
Dealing with a parent suffering from  Alzheimer's can be extremely stressful.

Alzheimer’s can be a very stressful on the relationship between a child and their parents. Dealing with a parent suffering from Alzheimer’s can be extremely stressful.

September is World Alzheimer’s Month. With more than 46 million people in the world living with a form of dementia, it’s time to speak out against this debilitating condition that is often ignored or hidden away. Although the elderly are revered and honored in many cultures, there’s still a stigma about having dementia. It’s not only the individual who is diagnosed with dementia who suffers, but family members who must care for this person are often under more strain and stress from dealing with a parent who is sick. If you’re taking care of a parent who has Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or another chronic condition, here are some tips to help you deal with the complex issues that arise.


Dealing With Parents Who Have Alzheimer’s

  1. Give your parents as much autonomy as you can. Offer options, not orders, when possible. This shows respect for their condition and affirms their value to you.
  2. Expect anger and grief. Your parent is not only dealing with a loss of his or her own body and mind, but of authority. The relationship he or she has always had with you is changing. Anticipate anger and respond in ways that show you understand what he or she has lost.
  3. Separate the emotional dysfunction from the disease. Dealing with a parent who has dementia is hard enough when he or she forgets your name. When your mom or dad calls you by your sibling’s name, don’t assume anything from this. It’s not about who is loved more.
  4. Appreciate your helpers. Find other caregivers who can help you take care of your mom and dad. If you can’t bring in healthcare providers, find members of the community who can offer respite from cleaning or shopping to give you a break.
  5. Ask siblings for help, but remember that everyone has their own baggage they’re dealing with. Ideally, it would be great if the family came together when mom and dad were sick. Realistically, you have no idea what each person is dealing with emotionally when it comes to parental relationships. Just because you’ve worked through your issues, maybe siblings haven’t.
  6. Expect crazy from the family. Impending grief makes people do crazy things. If there’s any kind of inheritance, it compounds the situation. Anticipate the frenzy that can happen when a parent is dying. Know where you draw the line about money. Protect yourself as much as you can.
  7. Take care of yourself. Caring for an elderly parent is a time-consuming job, and it’s probably not your only responsibility. Take time for yourself and your family. Have some fun when you can. Enjoy the good days.
  8. Don’t dwell on the little things. When dad forgets the little things, don’t sweat it. Just go with it. Listen to his stories from the old days. A patient with Alzheimer’s might remember things from 50 years ago while forgetting that he took his medicine just a few minutes ago.
  9. Ask for your parents’ advice when you can. Get them to talk about their past when they are able. Take advantage of the moments and appreciate the good times.
  10. Take things slow. You’re running a marathon, not a race. Get help from the aging council in your community to help you find the right process that works.

You’re not alone in taking care of aging parents. There may not be a cure for the condition your parent faces, but there is a lot of support. Reach out to others and find assistance to help you manage your new role as a caretaker. Talk about the problems of dementia and aging in your community to let others know that they aren’t alone in their struggles. When people come together, it makes a difference.

Dealing With a Suicide Epidemic
A suicide wrist bandage with "help" written on it

The Attawapiskat First Nation isn’t the only place in crisis.

In literature, failed romance often leads to suicide – as with “Romeo and Juliet” or “The Sorrows of Young Werther” by Goethe. However, the reality is much darker. Suicide risk factors are numerous, and include poverty, abuse, chronic physical or mental illnesses, family violence, and exposure to other suicides. That’s why the community of the Attawapiskat First Nation is so concerned about the number of suicides that have happened in their small reserve.

11 Members of the Community Tried to Take Their Own Life

In a city as big as Vancouver or Toronto, 11 people isn’t that many. The Attawapiskat Nation has about 2,000 members. In one night, 11 of them attempted suicide. The scarier statistic is that since last September, 100 individuals have attempted suicide. This has prompted the community to declare a state of emergency. The House of Commons has held a debate about what to do, and the Prime Minister’s office has pledged to improve conditions for the community.

Resources have been dispatched to help the police and mental health workers. Before the crisis, there were four healthcare providers who did not really have the training in crisis mental health situations. The health ministry dispatched crisis counselors and health workers to improve the conditions. Unfortunately, it took this crisis for the country to send this help. Even worse, the Attawapiskat First Nation isn’t the only place in crisis. Pimicikamak Cree Nation in Manitoba also has a rash of youth suicides causing it, too, to declare a state of emergency.

What Does This Mean for You?

The Attawapiskat First Nation is 600 miles north of Ontario. You may not be in a position to help this community, and to be honest, it’s going to take a lot of work from many individuals to change the conditions that led to the epidemic. What you can do is watch those people who are close to you and make sure that they have help if they need it. Teenagers, especially, read and hear about those who attempt or commit suicide, and it does ripple through the community.

Learn the warning signs of suicide:

  • Clinical depression, loss of interest in life
  • Talk of death
  • Feeling hopeless or in despair
  • Telling someone that it would be better if they weren’t here
  • Putting their affairs in order
  • Saying goodbye to people

You cannot argue or talk someone out of suicide. What you can do is listen and care. Seek help for the individual. Talk of suicide is an emergency. CASP runs a website,, with resources available to find the right help. It is not a crisis center, but it can direct you to one in your area.

Fortunately, suicide is preventable. When someone is in emotional distress, it creates problems with effective problem-solving. Those who consider suicide the answer can’t see any other way out. The problem is catastrophic that there doesn’t seem to be an answer. That’s not because there isn’t an answer, but because it is hidden. Mental healthcare can help direct someone toward better solutions.

According to CASP, talking about suicide is often the best intervention. It’s advised that you should never promise to keep this conversation secret. You may not be able to solve someone’s problem, but listening and caring are more effective techniques. The individual may need outside healthcare treatment.

The answer to these deaths or attempted deaths is not easy. The First Nations have a long road ahead as they change the risk factors which is leading to the suicide epidemic in their communities. You can be informed and understand how to talk to someone who is considering death at their own hands. Then, you can be more effective when listening to them.