Seniors stepping into their golden years are likely to experience mild memory loss, which is a normal aspect of the aging process. Forgetfulness that is due to aging can be improved when family caregivers intervene and help their parents make lifestyle changes.
What is mild memory loss?
Absentmindedness in the elderly is normal. Over time, the brain rejects memories that are not critical in order to make room for new memories. When mom or dad forgets a doctor’s appointment, the event simply means the elder person was not preoccupied with the scheduled visit.
Normal forgetfulness should not be a trigger for concern. Examples of mild memory loss include mom forgetting why she entered the living room or dad misplacing his keys. These occasional memory lapses fail to prevent the parent from functioning independently.
When mild, instances of memory loss can be recalled by the senior. The parent is still able to make sound judgment calls, keeps her wits about her in familiar places and is capable of holding conversations—despite the occasional loss for the right word or two.
What is extreme memory loss?
An individual who forgets significant information, like the names of loved ones or important words during conversations, shows signs of progressive memory loss. The decline in memory capabilities only worsens over time and may be indicative of a serious condition, like dementia.
When severe, memory loss is debilitating. The forgetfulness prevents the senior from completing routine tasks as she once did. The parent is unable to recall previous instances of forgetfulness. Trouble with judgment is a concern, and the senior becomes disoriented in familiar places. In-home memory care or specialized memory care facilities should be taken into consideration for seniors suffering from extreme memory loss.
How do routines help decrease forgetfulness?
Establishing daily routines in the life of seniors who gradually succumb to mild memory impairment requires little effort. Daily or weekly tasks should be set for the same days. For instance, schedule the laundry for every Tuesday. Routine doctor’s visits should be scheduled every month on a particular day.
Routines can be noted on a large calendar or white board that the parent checks daily. People frequent the kitchen every day, so this room is an ideal spot to hang a calendar. Parents who are tech savvy may rely on smartphones or digital assistants for appointment and task reminders.
How does a nutritious diet improve memory?
One known cause of age-related forgetfulness is a poor diet, especially one with a vitamin B12 deficiency. Munching on healthy foods is critical to delaying the memory loss that accompanies age. Brain boosting staples include salmon, broccoli, avocados, and blueberries.
Parents should also stay adequately hydrated. Dehydration can lead to problems, like memory loss and confusion. Elderly individuals should consume six to eight drinks per day. Family members should be especially cautious about proper hydration if the senior takes diuretics or has diabetes or high blood sugar.
Alcohol abuse damages brain cells. If mom or dad consumes heavy amounts of alcohol, persuade the parent to reduce the alcohol intake to one to two drinks per day. Alcohol’s toxic effect on the brain is known to increase the risk of dementia over time.
How does emotional relief improve memory?
Stresses, anxiety, and depression are catalysts for episodes of memory loss. The memory loss brought on by emotional issues is usually temporary, at least until the problems are resolved. In such cases, helping parents reduce stress and similar adverse emotional states contributes to improved memory function.
Depression in older adults is common, especially when important life changes occur, such as the death of loved ones or receiving a serious medical diagnosis. Depression, with its accompanying loss of concentration and remembering things, may seem like memory loss. Treating the depression can help improve memory.
How does stimulation increase mental sharpness?
“If you don’t use it, you lose it,” the saying goes. This maxim applies to the brain and memory just as well. Keep aging parents’ minds sharp by providing mental stimulation daily. Memory should be exercised by playing challenging games, like chess, cards, or board games.
When alone, older parents can exercise their brains by completing crossword puzzles, reading books and magazines, or engaging in the memorization of poetry. The brain also stays active when the senior pursues a new and interesting hobby that involves a process of learning and adaptation.
How does medication affect memory?
In some cases, prescription medication may cause side effects, like memory loss, in seniors. Schedule a visit with the prescribing doctor to determine whether beneficial medication adjustments may be made. A change in medication may be the antidote to halting increasing forgetfulness.
What can I do to help my senior loved ones experiencing memory loss?
Seniors who are experiencing memory loss may feel helpless, and so can their family members who do not know what to do for them. When seniors are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, it is important for relatives to recognize this and provide the help they need.
The problem is that many adult children simply do not know how they can help their aging parents with memory loss. Following these tips will help you provide the best care possible.
1. Understand Their Condition
It is important to get as full of an understanding as possible about the specific condition of your loved one. Memory loss affects everyone a little differently and dementia is a degenerative condition that happens in stages. Understanding how memory loss is affecting your loved one as well as what stage of dementia they are currently experiencing will help you better understand and respond to their behaviors.
You can learn more about how memory loss is affecting your loved ones specifically by talking to their doctor. There are also extensive resources from the Alzheimer’s Association that can help you learn more about this condition.
2. Keep Your Communication Slow and Simple
Those dealing with memory loss may also experience a decline in other cognitive abilities which can make it difficult for them to communicate. It is common for them to have difficulty understanding what is said to them and they may have problems making decisions.
When you communicate with loved ones experiencing memory loss, talk to them slowly and keep your statements simple. Address them by name, or by “mom” or “dad” when talking to your parents, and use simple, positive language. When asking a question, give them a couple of choices to make it easier for them to give you an answer.
3. Find Enjoyable Activities for You and Your Loves Ones
Seniors with memory loss still experience joy and meaning when engaging in enjoyable activities. If your parent has a favorite hobby or activity, they may still be able to participate in this activity. People with memory loss have been shown to retain the ability to do certain things that they have spent years doing, whether it be a certain task or skill. Engage your loved ones in their favorite activities to bring them joy and continue to connect with them on a personal level.
4. Create a Routine
People with memory loss benefit from a regular routine as they can recognize the patterns. Try to create a consistent routine with your loved ones based on their personal needs as well as their mood and behaviors. For example, plan more activities for the parts of the day when they have the most energy and save low energy activities for other parts of the day.
While routine is important, you should also be flexible with the routine. Changes in mood and behaviors can be somewhat unpredictable in those affected by memory loss and you need to be prepared to adjust the routine according to their mood. For example, if they are having a rough morning, you may want to change up the routine and skip some of their regular morning activities.
5. Create a Care Plan
Seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s, or another form of dementia need consistent care as they may no longer be able to take care of themselves or their home. It helps to create a care plan that includes the assistance they need to manage personal care tasks as well as tasks around the home.
In some cases, it may be possible for family members to manage the care they need. However, if their care needs become too much, it may be best to involve a home care professional that has experience providing Alzheimer’s and dementia care.
How Home Care Helps Seniors with Memory Issues
When forgetfulness increases in loved ones, an adult child caregiver can help provide the assistance they need. Implementing routines, helping a parent consume healthy meals, relieving emotional stresses, increasing mental stimulation, and adjusting medications go a long way in helping a parent’s memory stay alert. Visit NIA to learn more about Alzheimer’s caregiving.
Family members may not always be available to commit to efforts to decrease forgetfulness. When time or distance fails to allow proper care, an in-home caregiver is the next best alternative. Assisting Hands Home Care is staffed with compassionate caregivers who provide exceptional elder care.
Caregivers routinely prepare nutritious meals and engage in pleasant conversation and challenging games, like cards or board games, to stimulate the care recipients’ minds. When a medication adjustment is in order, a caregiver will provide the senior with transportation to the doctor’s office.
Your loved one will have ample opportunity to exercise, when the caregiver accompanies your parent on leisurely walks. Our reliable caregivers also provide personal care, which includes help with bathing, dressing, grooming and toileting.
Avoid long-term care facilities by hiring an in-home caregiver, who will provide optimal care, including dementia and Alzheimer’s care, for the senior in the familiarity and security of home. Meet with an Assisting Hands Home Care representative to start the in-home senior care process. We will develop a suitable care plan that meets your loved ones’ care needs.
Assisting Hands Home Care dependably serves the senior population and their families who reside in the surrounding communities of Burr Ridge, IL | Lyons, IL | Indian Head Park, IL | McCook, IL | Hodgkins, IL | Countryside, IL | Willow Springs, IL | Palisades, IL | La Grange Highlands, IL | Clarendon Hills, IL | Brookfield, IL | Western Springs, IL | Hinsdale, IL | Darien, IL | La Grange, IL | Downers Grove, IL | Oak Brook, IL | Willowbrook, IL and the surrounding areas.