If you have a loved one with memory loss, you may want to take steps to offer them as much help as possible. Ideally, you want to help your loved one retain their independence for as long as possible--including reducing memory loss wherever possible. Try some of these important strategies to help your loved one.
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1. Approach conversations gracefully
Often, if you've noticed memory loss in your loved one, they have already seen several signs of it--and may already be suffering from a number of complications as a result. Before discussing memory loss, go in with grace. Avoid making accusations; instead, let your loved one know that you are supportive and that you will be there for them.
2. Stay patient
When a loved one has memory loss, you may quickly grow frustrated. Instead of letting it get to you, however, remind yourself that it's not their fault and that, in many cases, they may be just as frustrated as you are. While it might not change the situation, your patience and understanding will make things easier on both of you.
3. Label things
If you're acting as a caregiver for a loved one with memory loss, create a habit of labeling things. Label the contents of drawers and cabinets. Post a sign on closets indicating what is in them. Does your loved one fret about whether the sheets have been changed in a timely manner? Label them. Simple labels and reminders can often make things easier to deal with.
4. Make lists
Keeping up with everyday tasks can become a struggle for a loved one who has significant memory loss. While a list may not be perfect, especially as memory loss progresses, you may find that making lists can make many things, from the tasks that need to be taken care of each day to what groceries need to be picked up, a little easier on everyone. Lists can also make it easier for you to remember the important details when caring for your loved one, whether it's the medications he needs to take each day or that she wants to have her purse with her before she goes out the door.
5. Break things down
If you need to explain something to a loved one with memory loss, take the time to break it down. Instead of trying to throw a great deal of information at them all at once, which both of you may find extremely frustrating, break things down into basic parts. Remember to discuss the things they most need to know, rather than trying to force them to remember unimportant details.
6. Avoid forcing dementia patients to remember
As dementia progresses, your loved one's internal reality may not look the same as the external one. Often, forcing them to remember can cause more complications, including increased stress or distress from your loved one. Instead, practice redirection when possible.
7. Use proper nouns when possible
If you're having a discussion with a loved one with memory loss, make it as simple as possible for them to follow the conversation by using proper nouns and specific descriptions, rather than vague ones. For example, you might ask, "Did you visit Dr. Frederick yesterday?" rather than simply asking about "the doctor." This is especially vital when speaking about events in the far past, which might be harder to bring to mind.
Caring for a loved one with memory loss can present a number of stresses, but by remaining calm and following some of these tips, you might find that it's easier. As your loved one needs more help, a memory care unit can make their everyday life more enjoyable while providing vitally needed care.