Dementia Diagnosis: 3 Essential Steps for Supporting Your Parent

Article Summary

This article provides advice to those whose parent has been diagnosed with dementia, including two items that may keep them safer at home and one idea that may benefit the caregiver's well-being.

Key takeaways:

  1. In-home tracking technology, such as StackCare, can be used to monitor a parent's movements without invading their privacy.
  2. Fall-alert necklaces can provide a simple way for a parent to seek help if they become incapacitated.
  3. Joining a dementia caregivers support group can provide emotional and physical support for the caregiver.


Once your parent is diagnosed with dementia, you may want to do everything you can to help them. Are there some things that could be beneficial, but people don’t often think of them?

We asked eldercare experts what they would recommend to someone whose parent is newly diagnosed with dementia. They suggested two items that may keep parents with early-stage dementia safer at home and one idea that may benefit your well-being. Read on for their advice:

In-home tracking technology

If you don’t live with your parent but you want to make sure that they’re following their usual routines – not lying in bed all day or wandering outside – an app like StackCare may help you keep tabs on your parent without invading their privacy.

“There are some really cool, innovative technology devices out there that are becoming a game-changer in helping people age in place,” says aging life care manager and licensed occupational therapist Melissa Swiontek, OTL, ALCM, founder of the Oregon-based Passionate Healthcare Advocacy & Wellness.

Instead of using invasive cameras and microphones to track someone’s presence, the system uses door sensors and body-heat sensors to determine a person’s location within the home.

“There are tiny sensors that go on the doors, so you can tell how many times someone went to the bathroom at night or if the front door opened at any time,” Swiontek says.

Initially, the system tracks your parent for a few days to recognize their typical habits as they move about their home. If they normally get back into bed after using the bathroom at night but one night, they don’t return to the bedroom, you’ll get an alert on your phone: Real-time data can be shared with you and other relatives via an app.

“That can really help to give you that peace of mind when it’s just a mild cognitive impairment and Mom’s still living at home,” Swiontek says.

A fall-alert necklace

When your parent with early dementia is still able to live independently, you may worry that they could slip in the shower or trip going down the stairs. Subscribing to a fall-alert system may provide a simple way for your parent to seek help, should they become incapacitated.

“Wearing a fall alert around your neck that you can push if you need help for anything is valuable, if they can remember to use it; it’s not too complicated, but you never know,” says geriatrician David Hackethorn, MD, an assistant professor of internal medicine at Texas A&M Health Science Center in College Station, Texas. “You have to simplify everything that they’re doing in the home [after a dementia diagnosis]. They probably [can’t use] an iPhone, unless they’ve been doing it a while, [so consider] a fall alert. [If they] can’t even handle that, that’s when you begin to think, ‘Well, maybe they need to be in a facility or have somebody in the home.’”

A dementia caregivers support group

After your parent’s dementia diagnosis, you probably spend a lot of energy worrying about and caring for them, but it’s also important to care for yourself. Looking after a loved one with dementia can be emotionally and physically taxing, and you may feel that you can’t talk to your friends about the experience. Joining a support group may provide you with the outlet that you need.

“I think it’s very important to be around others who know what it’s like for you and to get their wisdom and their support,” says Craig Borchardt, PhD, assistant professor of humanities in medicine at the Texas A&M University College of Medicine and CEO of Hospice Brazos Valley in Bryan, Texas.

If you’re hesitant to join a dementia caregivers support group because you don’t want to do something solely for yourself, consider that your participation may also benefit your parent.

“Being involved in those groups, that’s where ideas about things [to keep parents safe] are shared,” Borchardt says, “because caregivers are very creative, and they have a lot of initiative.”

Author Bio

Lisa Fields is a passionate healthcare writer and advocate for better senior care in America. This article has been reviewed by Dr. Logan DuBose, MD and co-founder of

Talk to an advisor


Need help caring for an elder loved one? We've got you covered.

  • Free consultation with a Senior Advisor
  • Compare pricing for senior services
  • Comprehensive planning for you loved one
or call us directly at 1-800-22-OLERA

Find Financial, Legal, & Other Services for your loved one

Read more

Complete Guide to Advance Care Planning for Family Caregivers

Complete Guide to Advance Care Planning for Family Caregivers

Added: Apr 5, 2024
6 min read
Last modified: Apr 5, 2024
Advance care planning is the process of learning about what kinds of medical decisions may need to be made in the future, preparing for them, and communicating one’s wishes to others.
Learn more
Types of Senior Care - Find the Best Care for Your Elderly Loved Ones

Types of Senior Care - Find the Best Care for Your Elderly Loved Ones

Added: May 31, 2023
5 min read
Last modified: Apr 22, 2024
Whether your loved one needs skilled medical care or just a little help in a home-like setting...
Learn more
Paying for Senior Care - Exploring Financial & Assistance Options for Senior Living

Paying for Senior Care - Exploring Financial & Assistance Options for Senior Living

Added: Jun 1, 2023
5 min read
Last modified: Apr 21, 2024
Aside from using personal savings, other ways to pay for long-term care include various...
Learn more