Caring for a loved one with memory loss, especially elderly memory loss, is a physically and emotionally excruciating endeavor. Difficulties in memory retention can render individuals unable to remember cherished events, make day-to-day activities arduous, and even forget their loved ones.
Although there is no definitive medical answer to questions about how to talk to someone with short-term memory loss or how to deal with memory loss in parents, caregivers need to adopt specific memory strategies for dementia to deal with everyday tasks seamlessly. Whether it be Alzheimer’s or some other kind of dementia, helping someone with memory loss is undoubtedly a challenging endeavor.
This article aims to provide you with some valuable insight into how to do so and contribute to a patient’s quality of life. Let’s get started!
What You Need To Know About Elderly Memory Loss
Contrary to popular belief, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are not the only two memory-related disorders that hamper cognitive abilities in adults. Although they are the most common culprits, there are a number of other suspects that need to be taken into consideration – such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob’s diseases and Huntington’s disease.
Dementia itself is not the name of a definitive cognitive disease but is instead used as an umbrella term for an array of diseases leading to cognitive decline. The most common kind of dementia is undoubtedly Alzheimer’s disease, which is thought to be caused by a protein buildup in the brain that disrupts normal functioning. However, other memory-related diseases can also have symptoms somewhat resembling those of Alzheimer’s.
The most common symptoms of dementia include the following:
- Complications with spatial or visual abilities
- Diminished problem solving and reasoning abilities
- Memory loss
- Trouble with verbal expression
- Inability to manage critical thinking skills, organization, complex tasks, and organization
- Persistent confusion and disorientation
- Inappropriate or strange behavior
- Deterioration in the coordination of motor functions
- Changes in personality or emotional disturbances
- Paranoia, agitation, and hallucinations
- Depression and anxiety
How to help someone with short-term memory loss
A majority of people with dementia or short-term memory loss lose the ability to feel independent and confident. That is because the inability to remember recent, essential or even minor information drastically undermines their trust in themselves, rendering them unable to take responsibility lest it has disastrous consequences.
This phenomenon necessitates intrusive outside assistance, whether from a family member or a professional in the caregiving field. Although it is more mentally reassuring for family members to be caregivers for patients with short-term memory loss, the experiences can put a strain on relationships if not handled aptly.
Therefore, a caregiver must look for ways to make a patient comfortable, loved, and heard. Let us look at some of them.
- Be well versed in their medical condition
One of the primary responsibilities of caregivers of dementia patients is to learn as much as possible about the patient’s specific condition. Different kinds of dementia have various symptoms, causes, treatments, and being well-versed in these matters can help you significantly in deciding your approach.
It also allows you to deal with unprecedented circumstances in the most suitable way possible. For example, knowing that a specific kind of dementia causes vision problems can explain a number of actions of patients, and you can adopt efficient remedies to cope with them after identifying the root cause.
- Stay calm in the face of emotional rollercoasters
Dementia can be a very frustrating experience – both for the patient and caregivers. Imagine not being able to make sense of the world around you, being unable to take care of yourself, and forgetting who you are and why you are where you are. Sounds terrifying, right? That is why angry outbursts, emotional rollercoasters, yelling, crying, rage, and high irritability are common for dementia patients.
It is crucial for caregivers to be able to deal with and mitigate these emotions without getting worked up themselves. It is vital to approach the patient in an understanding, calm, and respectful way and give them space when required.
- Develop a regular and clear routine
Individuals suffering from memory loss can be highly irritable because of their inability to keep track of what’s going on around them. That is why it is crucial to keep a clear and regular routine and follow it to the minute while preventing any significant changes. This approach can help cut down some of the frustrations faced by the patient. Older adults are least likely to go into a state of frenzy when things are predictable and calm.
Memory strategies for dementia
Dementia causes people to forget their identities, their names and faces along with those of their loved ones, and even the happiest and most important memories of their lives. Memory strategies are thus crucial in helping them keep a record of themselves and their actions.
Let us look at some easy and common memory strategies for dementia that can also help you talk to someone with short-term memory loss.
- Keep Visual and written records (like descriptions, pictures, and notes): Written reminders are perhaps the most significant tool for people with dementia. You can put up context clues or small sticky notes with information relevant to a particular place, such as the medicine schedule on the medicine cabinet or a diet schedule next to the refrigerator.
- Keep things in prominent places: Since people with dementia cannot remember their daily use items with ease, not finding them can lead to frenzy, paranoia, anxiety, or even mental breakdowns. It is, therefore, pivotal to keep things in expected places and keep a backup of certain essential items like keys or glasses just in case.
- Keep things neat, clean, and avoid clutter: Clutter can pose several complications for both a dementia patient and the caregiver, rendering the former unable to find required items and the latter unable to deal with its consequences.
- Make consistent use of GPS tracking technology, identification cards, information cards, and help cards from the Alzheimer’s society to prevent a dementia patient from getting lost.
NeuroX provides affordable psychiatric and neurology care right at your doorstep and can provide you with the medical and emotional support you require. Head over to NeuroX right now to get started and get online consultations from a board-certified neurologist of your choice within 24-48 hours.