Missing a monthly bill payment or forgetting what day it is are signs of mild memory loss. Older people commonly experience mild memory impairment, which is the result of an aging brain. While not all memory loss suggests dementia, seniors with memory issues benefit from support in daily life.
Adult children might worry when mild memory loss impacts their parents’ lives. The cognitive changes, however, are a normal part of growing older. Besides aging, causes of memory loss include medical conditions (like blood clots or a head injury due to a fall), medication, depression and anxiety.
An elderly parent may start to forget as the hippocampus (a region of the brain that retrieves memories) deteriorates with age. Decreased blood flow to the brain is another common reason for changes in cognitive abilities. Hormones that repair brain cells also deteriorate in the elderly.
Helping aging parents who experience bouts of memory loss is possible, even when the memory loss is due to Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Eight practical measures reduce the uneasiness older people feel when they are no longer able to easily recall information as they once used to.
1. Get a Diagnosis
Certain medical conditions, like depression, and side effects of medication are responsible for memory loss. If caught early, these conditions are reversible. It is important for the aging parent to visit a memory disorder clinic for an accurate diagnosis, treatment options, risk factors and future planning.
2. Stay Informed
As a concerned family member, become knowledgeable about the various issues that surround memory impairment in the elderly. Learning how memory conditions progress offers caregivers a starting point for determining the level of care required and what resources are available.
3. Assess Needs
A parent suffering from cognitive decline will experience memory issues differently at varying stages. In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, for instance, the senior will require minimal help. Adult children will likely pay monthly bills or regularly stock the fridge upon trips to the grocery store.
During the later stages of dementia, the aging parent will require more advanced levels of support. The senior will no longer be independently able to perform hygiene tasks, eat or prepare meals. Adult children should be prepared to assess their parents’ needs with the help of assessment tools.
4. Modify the Home
A senior with memory problems must live in a safe home environment in order to execute the activities of daily living. Family members might install grab bars in the bathroom; and, glass drinking cups may be replaced with paper ones to maximize safety.
Relatives may closely monitor nutrient consumption to ensure the senior eats neither too little nor too much food. The aging parent may wear a tracking device or identification bracelet in the event she wanders. Door and bed alarms notify caregivers when the senior exits the home and bed.
Requesting that Mom or Dad turn off the toaster oven after use is bound to fail at some point. Seniors with memory problems will be unable to remember important instructions. Rather, make changes, like installing a smart oven with an automatic shut off switch.
5. Foster Independence
Encourage an aging parent to be as independent as possible. Purchase a medication dispenser with an alarm, for instance, so that the senior takes her medications on schedule without prompting by a family member. Promoting independence via small steps helps the parent retain everyday skills.
Balancing self-reliance is key. Asking an elderly parent to perform the majority of tasks independently only causes frustration in the senior; at the same time, the older individual’s abilities will fail to strengthen. Be aware that it is normal for the senior’s abilities to fluctuate on a daily basis.
6. Rephrase Communication
Avoid asking an aging parent open-ended questions, like what to have for dinner. The senior may struggle for the right words, fail to realize she is hungry or have no desire for food once it is served. Prevent confusion in the senior by making statements, like, “Let’s have dinner.”
7. Choose to Agree
A person with memory issues may fail to realize that a loved one has passed away, for instance. Correcting the aging parent only reintroduces the pain of the loss. Instead, calm the senior by initiating a conversation about the deceased individual. Alternately, gently redirect the discussion.
8. Encourage Exercise
Both physical and mental workouts are beneficial to the aging person’s brain. Staying physically active increases blood flow to the brain and helps to stimulate the brain’s ability to make new connections. Cardio exercises and strength training are sufficient to slow the progression of cognitive decline.
Brain exercises also lower the risk of mental decline. Join a parent in enjoyable activities, such as a game of chess or bridge. Provide ample reading materials, like books and magazines. Encourage the parent to learn a new instrument, foreign language or recipe.
Adult children who live far away from their parents or are busy with family have a compassionate resource to turn to: Assisting Hands Home Care. As a reputable in-home care provider, our caregivers are trained to provide skilled assistance to seniors living with any stage of memory loss.
Dementia care is a specialized service that meets the specific needs of elderly individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. Even if your loved one experiences mild forgetfulness, our dementia care providers will be there to provide high-level, non-medical care.
Dementia care from Assisting Hands Home Care involves comprehensive services. We’ll stimulate your loved one’s mind through conversation, games and exercise. Discreet assistance with hygiene, such as bathing, dressing and grooming, is also provided. We’ll transport your loved one to appointments.
Seniors who reside in the surrounding communities of Palm Beach Gardens, Boynton Beach and West Palm Beach, Florida, experience a better quality of life when they utilize the in-home elder care services provided by Assisting Hands Home Care. Call (561) 781-5885 to consult our friendly representatives for a free in-home assessment.