Memory Loss: Dementia & Alzheimer’s
Seniors Who Need Extra Help
If a family member is showing signs of memory loss there are many things you can do to make communication easier and keep your relationship strong. Frustration can run high when you have to keep repeating yourself or are continually asked the same question over and over again. If you show frustration, the person can become upset, angry or even combative.
Keep in mind that the person is not repeating things to drive you crazy. They truly cannot remember. Try to answer as simply as possible.
A calm, soothing tone of voice is often understood better than actual words and is less likely to upset the person.
Surprising someone by suddenly approaching them or coming up from behind can cause anger or lashing out. Walk around to the side of them and speak gently. Standing directly in front of them can make them feel trapped and anxious. Eye contact will help keep the person engaged.
Use simple visual cues over words and limit choices to two.
Don’t disagree or correct when questions or comments are out of context. Just go with the flow and avoid confrontation, anger and confusion.
Gentile reminders help alleviate the fear of not knowing. State your name often so that that the person is not embarrassed or confused when they can’t remember it.
Have a daily routine and stick to it. Confusion causes anxiety.
Three basic thoughts:
- Keep it simple
- Keep it the same
- Keep it safe
Keep it simple and uncluttered.
The more things that are on tables, the sofa, floor, or countertops, the more confusing it is to someone who has difficulty making choices and remembering what they are doing. It’s distracting and may cause the person to get upset or to slip and fall.
Clear spaces of unnecessary clutter.
Make it easy to find commonly used items such as:
- TV remote
Always put them in the same place.
Reorganize and simplify the bathroom so that daily items are in one place.
If the vanity is large enough, a small tray can contain items such as, tooth brush and toothpaste as well a plastic water glass.
Other commonly used items should be easily accessible, but not so that the area becomes overwhelming or confusing. They may be placed in a drawer or cabinet.
- Hair brush
- Hand cream
Use caution with an elder who becomes confused and remove products that could be dangerous if ingested.
Do the same with the kitchen:
- Put one set of commonly used dishes together on one shelf.
- A plate, a mug and a glass
- Have a place for one set of utensils as well.
Keep things safe.
- Throw rugs are tripping hazards. It is best to remove them.
- Keep areas well lit. At night use nightlights.
- Avoid using extension cords if possible, or make sure that are out of the way and cannot be tripped on or get caught on something.
- Do not place items on the floor; books, newspapers, shoes etc.
- Check to make sure that hot foods aren’t too hot.
- Medicines should be out of reach.
- Take care when the stove is in use.
- Remove extra furniture.
If something “seems” dangerous, it probably is. Don’t doubt your instincts.
Keep yourself safe.
Don’t lift or move items that are too heavy.
If you are the only one caring for mom or dad, have someone come and replace you on a regular basis so that you can take care of yourself.