One frequent difficult factor in later life is elderly memory loss. Help can come in many forms, and if you have a loved one who is struggling cognitively, you are not alone.
The Moments was created after our founder, Elizabeth Wright, had two family members in need of memory care. She couldn’t find the kind of special community she wanted for them, so she made it herself. Here we believe in individualized, loving care that honors each unique resident in whatever way they need.
Memory loss comes in different forms. Some level of minor short-term memory loss is common with aging, as are mild cognitive impairments (MCIs), and dementia (National Institute on Aging). No matter what you’re going through, and whether your loved one is a resident of The Moments, another memory care community, or living independently, there are many ways you can love and support them.
Although some types of memory loss are caused by irreversible brain disorders like Alzheimer’s Disease, many others are the result of treatable conditions (National Institute on Aging). As always, you must bring any health concerns to the responsible physician.
Helping Elderly People With Memory Loss
If you are the primary caregiver helping an elderly person with memory loss, you may know their areas of struggle better than they do. It is very important that you structure your care based on your loved one’s symptoms and areas of cognitive decline. We will cover a few common areas of difficulty for seniors with memory loss and give concrete examples of how to help.
Forgetting Conversations or Events
Whether or not you and your elderly parent or grandparent can be together in person, technology has made documentation so much easier. Jot down notes when you talk to them, and ask others to do the same. You don’t have to become a documentarian of their daily life, but helping to organize the important things can make a big difference.
Forgetting People, Names, and Words
Subtle clues and prompts can help guide your loved one through their confusion. If that approach doesn’t work, try gently including the name or word they can’t find in your conversation. Forgetting people and language can be both frightening and embarrassing for someone with memory loss, so try not to make a big deal out of it.
Use reassurance and reintroduction to help ease a mind who is struggling to recognize someone. Do not take it personally if they forget you. Focus on keeping your loved one comfortable in the moment, and process any feelings afterward with a safe person.
Struggling With Everyday Tasks
A broken-down schedule can help a lot with managing daily activities. It’s okay to make it as simple as a bulleted list. A few prompts and directions can go a long way in helping a mind remember.
If your loved one with memory loss is struggling with getting lost, make sure they always have identification on their person if possible. Cell phones or alert buttons can help, too, so that they always have a way to contact someone they trust. If it is no longer safe for them to be alone, help is available in the form of caregivers and memory care communities.
When it comes to medical treatment for memory loss, every diagnosis and doctor is different. If you suspect that a senior you love may be experiencing cognitive decline, it’s crucial for them to see their doctor for proper assessment. Each story is unique.
Though your elderly parent or grandparent may need medication for depression, dementia, or another cognitive impairment, there are also six simple, evidence-based ways that you can help them with their memory loss.
Exercise with them, or encourage them to stay physically active.
Keep them mentally active with games, books, and conversation, or learn something new with them.
Spend time with them, or encourage them to stay socially connected.
Help them get and/or stay organized.
Encourage healthy sleep habits.
Encourage them to stay current with their health care providers.
Now that we’ve covered many of the practical and medical methods of caring for memory loss in the elderly, we have come to the most important thing you can do: love and support them. With nonjudgmental patience, a good sense of humor, and unconditional love, you can get through the hard moments together.
Helping the elderly with memory loss is one of the most rewarding parts of life at The Moments. You don’t have to walk alone through the weeds of cognitive decline and memory loss. We would be honored to meet you and your loved one to create a personalized care plan.