Imagine getting up from the couch, walking over to your medicine cabinet, taking your meds, and about an hour later walking over to your medicine cabinet again to take your medication.
Concerning? Scary? You bet.
Seniors with short-term memory loss deal with situations like these every day. Some of them know that they are forgetful, while others have no idea. Their loved ones notice it, say something, and they become upset because they feel as though they are being pigeon holed.
Instead of pointing out that the senior may be suffering from short-term memory loss, it may be helpful to him/her if you do the following:
- When the senior says that she has forgotten whether she’s done something, suggest that he/she write it down next time. For example, when he/she takes medication, it would be helpful to write down the date and time. That way he/she can check whether he/she has taken it already.
- Create a calendar together. Medical appointments, grocery shopping, and other tasks that need to be done at a specific time should be added to a calendar. Make it an activity you do together or simply go with her to buy one.
- Begin calling your loved one more often. If you call in the morning, you can review what he/she is doing that day, and encourage him/her to write it down.
Writing things down is the best way to deal with short-term memory loss because you can always go back and read what happened or what needs to be done.
To improve short-term memory loss, you can encourage your loved one to work on more puzzle. Puzzles make the mind work, and the more it works, the slower the decline in cognitive functioning.
Reading is another good activity to help short-term memory loss. When people read, they have to remember what happened earlier in the book to understand what is happening. This may mean the senior will have to review some of the chapters previously read, but exercising the mind this way can slow down the progression of memory loss and cognitive functioning.
Playing games such as the memory game that many children play is also good. Flipping over cards to find matches and then being able to remember the ones flipped over previously is a great exercise.
Seniors are likely to become angry, frustrated, and ashamed when they can’t remember what just happened a few minutes ago. When this happens, be supportive and comforting to your loved one. Let him/her know that it is normal and that you are there to help him/her cope. You can’t make the short-term memory loss go away, but you can help your loved one deal with it effectively, so he/she is not as upset over it.
Be good to yourself as you care for a senior loved one. You do the best you can with what you know. Continue to come back to this blog for helpful advice, and if you ever need further help, consider personal consulting with Kendall Van Blarcom. He can help you through the hard times and help your senior cope with age-related challenges.