If you have a loved one who is experiencing memory loss, it can be difficult to know how to provide support most effectively.
Understanding your loved one’s perspective, avoiding correcting them, limiting distractions while still interacting in meaningful ways, and using visual cues are all ways you can help someone dealing with memory loss.
As stressful as it may be, it’s important to find ways to be supportive and helpful for your loved one. With a few simple tweaks to your routine, you can help your loved one feel more comfortable and secure. But it’s also important to know when to get help with a professional service like respite care, or in some cases, memory care for long-term care of your loved one.
Common Causes of Memory Loss in Seniors
There are many possible reasons why a senior may begin losing struggling to recall things. But not all memory loss is equal. For example, a slight decline in information recall as one ages can be normal, but “dementia” isn’t a normal part of aging.
As we age, our brains undergo changes that affect our memory. The ability to recall information gradually declines as we get older, and this is a natural part of the aging process. But this is typically more of a “mild forgetfulness.”
Seniors experiencing more severe memory loss could be a result of an underlying health condition like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Certain medications can cause side effects that affect memory function. Common examples include medications used to treat anxiety, depression, pain, heart disease, and sleep disorders. If your loved one is experiencing memory loss, it’s important to ask their doctor if any of their medications could be the cause.
Sometimes all it takes to improve your loved one’s memory is a change in medication, but this is something only a qualified medical professional can judge or answer.
Lack of Sleep
Sleep plays an important role in memory consolidation. Seniors who experience insomnia or other sleep disorders may be at risk of memory problems. Encouraging your loved one to adopt healthy sleep habits can help improve their memory function.
Dementia is a condition that causes significant memory loss and cognitive decline. This condition can be caused by various factors such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke. Early detection and proper management of dementia can help slow down the progression of memory loss.
It’s important to note that dementia and its related conditions are not a normal part of aging. It’s a good idea to see a doctor if you or your loved one is experiencing some of the early signs.
How to Help Someone with Memory Loss
You ultimately know your loved one the best, and how you help them with their memory loss depends on them as an individual. But the following are a few general tips that you can incorporate into your daily life with them.
Professional memory care, with trained caregivers, may be a beneficial option in some cases. Especially with advanced dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Understand Their Perspective
When you approach your loved one with memory loss, it’s important to take a moment to understand their perspective. This means trying to view the world from their standpoint and responding accordingly.
For example, if your loved one struggles to remember certain details, try not to become frustrated and impatient. Instead, try filling in a few pieces of information without overwhelming them or being condescending.
Avoid Correcting Them
It can be tempting to correct someone who is experiencing memory loss, but this is generally not helpful. Try to remember that your loved one is not intentionally forgetting things, and correcting them can come across as dismissive. If they express confusion or misremembering a detail, simply offer to help clarify it.
When your loved one is trying to remember something, it’s important to limit potential distractions as much as possible. This may mean turning off the television, creating a calm environment, or closing the curtains to reduce outside noise.
By reducing external stimuli, you can help your loved one focus their attention and retain more information. You’re essentially setting your loved one up for success by limiting distractions.
Use Visual Cues
Memory loss can often make it difficult to remember names, faces, or even basic routines. To help mitigate this, you can use visual cues to jog your loved one’s memory. Try putting up photos of important family members or using a whiteboard to outline daily tasks. Not only can this help your loved one retain more information, but it can also provide a positive sense of structure and routine.
Provide Meaningful Interactions
Perhaps most importantly, it’s essential to provide meaningful, emotionally-rich interactions for your loved one. This can come in many different forms, including playing games, engaging in storytelling, or simply spending time together. By focusing on shared interests and creating an atmosphere of warmth and love, you can help your loved one feel more connected to the world around them.
Plan for the Future
Memory loss can be a distressing and complex issue, but there are many ways to help support your loved one. By understanding their perspective, avoiding correction, limiting distractions, using visual cues, and providing meaningful interactions, you can make a real difference in their quality of life.
It’s important to remember that you’re not alone, and it’s a good idea to surround yourself with support. Respite care is one example that can provide you with a temporary break. And you can rest knowing your loved one receives proper care and attention.
Memory care may be beneficial for a more permanent living situation. Contact us at The Legacy at Santa Fe to book a community tour. Let us show you the quality of care you can expect here for your loved one.