Senior Center

Managing Memory Loss

By Jan Bolder - December 18, 2013

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As seniors get older, they may begin to suffer from memory loss that isn't age-related. Although there's often no surefire way of stopping or removing it (yet), there are ways that caregivers can manage memory loss and still preserve a near-same quality of life for seniors.

Brevity: If you want to maximize your senior's attention span, give them the most important information. Even someone who has a mind like a steel trap can lose you if you throw too much non-important information at them, so keep it short and to the point.

Patience: Remember that as frustrating as it is for you to listen and watch a senior with memory loss, it's ten times so for them. You get to "turn it off" and walk away, but they don't, and have to experience it constantly. And keep in mind that memory loss usually worsens over time, and there'll come a point in the future when you look back at this time as one you wish you could have back.

Socializing: Humans are inherently social creatures. A person with memory loss can only keep their minds sharp by themselves for so long, and by visiting them on a regular basis, you'll be helping them along far more than you know. 

Checking In: This is a touchy point, as it assumes you have a deeply open, honest and communicative relationship with your senior where both parties acknowledge a failing memory. If this is the case, then set up an agreement where you'll check in with your senior about meds, nutrition, errands and appointments. 

Sticky Notes: You can't be with your senior every second of the day, but you can help them retain independence when you're away. Put up sticky notes that'll remind your senior of easily-forgotten things, like labeling pieces and parts in the kitchen, simple operating instructions on appliances, food and medication reminders, and personal notes.

Exercise: By keeping your senior physically active, you can help them with memory loss. If nothing else, something like taking a walk or going for a swim forces their brains to navigate different tasks. It also adds structure to their days, keeping their minds focused.

Minimize Distractions: Your senior has more than enough to handle and worry about without added noise. By cutting down on distractions like the TV or radio, you'll better your chances of getting a good response.

It may seem like requiring more effort, skill, time and patience you have, but looking at memory loss as a day-to-day situation can help diffuse many of the difficulties.