Memory loss can begin to manifest as individuals age. Subtle changes to memory are a natural part of the aging process. Supporting a parent suffering from memory loss requires that families be aware of the gradual changes in memory and make lifestyle adjustments.
Changes in memory are to be expected in as parents age. In some cases, memory deteriorates sooner than anticipated. At other times, minor memory lapses may go unnoticed. Major instances of forgetfulness can be worrying to an individual or family members.
What causes memory problems?
A wide range of scenarios or conditions affect memory. Medication side effects may reduce an individual’s ability to remember information. The development of mental conditions, like depression or anxiety, impacts memory in adverse ways. Sleep issues can cause memory lapses.
Physical ailments, including heart disease, infections in the brain, thyroid disease, a head injury, blood clots and a brain tumor impact how the brain retains information. Nutritional deficiencies, such as dehydration and a lack of adequate vitamins, also impact memory.
Occasional forgetfulness is a normal aspect of aging. Taking longer to recall names or misplacing keys are examples of minor lapses in memory. On the other hand, the memory problems that interfere with daily functioning are not a normal part of growing older.
Mild cognitive impairment and dementia cause deterioration in thinking skills and the ability to remember. When recent events, appointments, and the names of close friends are forgotten, it is a sign of mild cognitive impairment. In affected individuals, paying bills may be done, albeit with difficulty.
However, not all individuals who develop mild cognitive impairment will be diagnosed with dementia. Symptoms of dementia include an inability to correctly take medications and poor judgment. The individual is also unaware of memory loss and requires assistance with the activities of daily living.
How You Can Help
Below is a list of actions you can take to help your parents. For more information on dementia behaviors and how to help, watch our dementia workshop videos.
Consult the Parent
It becomes important to assist a parent who begins to display symptoms of memory loss. Respecting the parent’s wishes allows them to retain a sense of control. Adult children are advised to consult the parent about care preferences, meals, and even clothing options.
When verbally communicating with an individual with memory loss, speak slowly and clearly. The individual requires more time to process information, as her brain functions more slowly; and, hearing may be impaired. Introduce one subject at a time to prevent the individual from being overwhelmed.
Ensure the parent’s safety at home. Upon conducting a home safety assessment, provide the individual with a Help+ Alert pendant / smart watch or a voice-activated system. Wearable devices that feature GPS, Wi-Fi capabilities, and two-way speakers are available to enhance security at home.
Offer a Phone
If the parent is able to use a phone, give them a senior-friendly smartphone and charger. Program important phone numbers, such as those of friends, family and doctors, into the phone. Additionally, post a list of emergency contact information in a visible location, such as on the fridge.
Promote Physical Exercise
Encourage the parent to exercise on a regular schedule. Aerobic activity is particularly beneficial to brain health. Aerobic exercises, like swimming and walking, increase the heart rate. Strength training, balance training and stretching are recommended for preserving overall bodily health.
Facilitate Brain Workouts
An individual with memory loss must exercise their brain. There are a wealth of opportunities to give their brains a workout: puzzles, card games, learning a new language or hobby, and playing an instrument. Mentally stimulating exercises can be done in senior focused centers or at home.
Encourage Social Activity
Family members who are concerned about a parent’s memory are advised to nurture the individual’s social well-being. Individuals should remain socially active by joining clubs or volunteering. If mobility is problematic, professional caregivers serve as excellent companions at home.
Individuals living with dementia thrive in routine. Family caregivers are urged to establish a daily schedule, one that the parent will begin to expect. Serve breakfast at the same time each morning. Drive the loved one to yoga classes every Wednesday, for instance.
Music is powerful, triggering the individual’s forgotten memories and emotions. Playing music can transport your loved one to the happiest moments of their life. In turn, the individual feels less anxious. Musical aptitude endures long after the individual’s other cognitive skills fade.
Prepare Nutritious Meals
Fix nutrient-dense meals to boost brain function. Fruits containing antioxidants include blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like broccoli, whole grains, seafood, eggs, and peanuts, help decrease cognitive decline. Chocolate contains flavonoids, antioxidants that improve blood flow in the brain.
Promote Quality Sleep
Promote a good night’s rest. The parent should spend six to nine hours in quality sleep per night. During sleep, the connections between brain cells are strengthened; as a result, new memories are transferred from the short-term to long-term memory.
Call Assisting Hands Home Care
If your parent has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, turn to Assisting Hands Richmond, a reputable home care provider. Our qualified Caregivers are specially trained in providing care for individuals living with dementia and are instrumental in ensuring individuals with memory loss continue to flourish in the comfort of their home.
Home care enhances the well-being of individuals living with dementia. Individuals with dementia seek the familiar, and a home environment to which they are accustomed offers a profound sense of security. Families are thus encouraged to arrange for reliable in-home dementia care.
Assisting Hands Richmond Caregivers are skilled in identifying and compassionately addressing the various symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. We support individuals living with dementia who are prone to wandering, suffer from incontinence, become agitated, and have frequent memory lapses.
Responsibilities include daily in-home assistance with personal hygiene tasks and light housekeeping. We prepare nutritious meals and drive care recipients to senior centers or doctor’s appointments. Our Caregivers encourage physical exercise and stimulate individuals’ minds with games, hobbies and conversation.
Compassionately caring for an individual with memory loss is possible with home care services from Assisting Hands Home Care. Our professional Caregivers are available to support seniors living in Richmond, Virginia, and its surrounding communities. Call to schedule an in-home consultation (804) 533-6505.