About one in nine adults age 45 or older in the United States has some degree of memory loss or confusion. If you have a loved one who is part of this large group, life can become frustrating — for you and for them.
Dealing with memory loss can be tricky, but there are some rules of thumb that will help you negotiate these waters more successfully. To get you started, the team here at Complete Neurological Care pulled together the following tips.
Whether your loved one has early dementia, the first stages of Alzheimer’s disease, or age-related memory loss, it usually affects short-term memory first. Events from long ago are still vivid in their mind, but remembering whether they ate breakfast is more difficult.
As a result, day-to-day function can become more difficult since it relies on short-term memory — did they take their pills? Did they leave the stove on? Did they brush their teeth?
To help your loved one function better, it helps to have some aids, such as:
- Labeled meals in the fridge
- Daily pill organizers
- Stove alarms
Well-placed sticky notes can be extremely handy, and you can also use a smartphone to set daily reminders.
In addition to these aids, staying as close as possible to a routine can also be helpful. Routines become automatic and ingrained and don’t rely on memory as much.
Patience and prompting
As we mentioned, memory loss in a loved one can be frustrating on both sides. It’s terribly important that you dig deep for much-needed patience during this time.
For example, if your loved one is struggling to come up with a word or name, give them time or simply move on if it’s not important.
You can help by repeating someone’s name. For example, when someone walks into the room, you can say, “Oh look, Alex is here for her weekly cleaning.” This gives your loved one the name of the person and the context.
Going a step further, you can create a chart with pictures to remind your loved one of the cast of characters in their lives.
Things to avoid
We know that you want to assess their memory loss, but avoid quizzing them. This puts pressure on your loved one and may make their memory loss even worse.
As well, avoid saying things like, “Don’t you remember….” These statements only remind your loved one of their memory loss, often leaving them more frustrated.
Lastly, try not to argue a point. For example, your loved one may insist that they did something even though you know they didn’t, but arguing only makes the situation worse. Instead, move away from the topic and revisit it later.
Knowing when to get help
At the first signs of memory loss, come see us for a full evaluation so you know what you’re up against. At this point, we provide you with the information and tools you need to move forward.
If your loved one’s memory loss is progressive, you need to know when the issue crosses over into territory that you’re not equipped to handle. Advanced dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can be extremely difficult, and your loved one may need round-the-clock care.
Of course, we’re here every step of the way, and we can advise you as you go.
To learn more about dealing with memory loss in a loved one, please contact one of our offices in Boynton Beach, Boca Raton, or Margate, Florida, to schedule a consultation.