When Memory Loss Interferes With Life: What Are Your Options?

Many older people experience varying degrees of memory loss. Some may forget a few details about their earlier life or current circumstances. Others, however, become increasingly confused and forgetful to the point where they require assistance with their daily living needs. Caring for an elderly loved one is a stressful responsibility that many people will find themselves needing to address. However, these individuals will often feel unprepared when they find themselves facing this sudden responsibility. When a loved one experiences significant memory loss, here are some options to consider. 

Homemaker Aide 

Many senior social service agencies offer affordable help through the services of a homemaker aide. These individuals are trained in providing support for someone who is forgetful and in need of daily care with household chores, including light cleaning, meal preparation, and dispensing medication as prescribed. A homemaker helper, sometimes called a home health aide, can be hired to work a few hours each day or full-time around the clock, with different staff members covering each shift. People with memory loss often appreciate having another adult around, although they may occasionally forget who that person is and need to be reminded. 

Home Hazard Prevention 

The home can become a dangerous place for elderly individuals due to the threat of experiencing memory loss. Elderly individuals with memory loss may accidentally leave a stove on which can be a serious fire hazard. Additionally, these individuals may struggle with finding things around the house. It’s Important to make sure that your loved one is unable to access any appliances that might harm them. If they tend to misplace a personal item that they regularly use, you should consider looking for a device that can help you track it when it is lost. 

Additionally, it’s important to regularly visit your loved ones to make sure that none of their faucets are left on overnight. Not only will a running faucet cause the water bill to rise, but it could also cause a room to flood and become a falling hazard. 

Problem Anticipation 

Many of the most significant issues that your loved one will face are likely to develop in a gradual manner. This will allow for steps to be taken to help minimize or avoid problems. For example, a loved one that is developing increasingly severe memory issues may benefit from having someone stay with them to minimize confusion and hazards. If this is not possible, make sure to have a way for them to easily contact you even if they are unable to remember your phone number. Making sure that someone is always there for your loved one will help them stay safe. 

Family Caregivers 

Sometimes a grandchild who is a college student or an adult son or daughter can stay with an older person who has memory loss. Continual monitoring can be arranged with relatives taking turns to stay with the loved one as needed. A familiar face is generally welcomed by someone who begins to forget their circumstances and personal needs. Family members often know the loved one well enough to provide security and reassurance as needed. 

Medical Care Routines 

An elderly person will often have complex medical needs that will have to be met. These needs can include the requirement for them to take medications at specific times, eat specialized diets, or other needs based on the health of the patient. In addition to these needs, patients will also often encounter memory issues that could make it more difficult for them to effectively and consistently follow these instructions. As a result, you may need to regularly check on your elderly loved one to ensure that they are following these directions. Otherwise, they may develop serious medical problems in the future. If their memory loss is mild, then you may be able to leave reminders to help them follow their routines. However, elders with serious memory issues may require more hands-on assistance. 

Move in With Family 

Empty nesters as well as families in any phase of life may choose to bring an older relative who is starting to forget things to live with them. This might be a temporary situation until a permanent arrangement can be made, or it may last if everyone is comfortable, and the loved one adjusts well. Some monitoring might be needed, especially at night, when people who have dementia or Alzheimer’s tend to become confused and wander around due to sundown syndrome, a state of disorientation that occurs in the afternoon and night. 

Assisted Residential Living 

In cases where a person needs more detailed help, assisted living could be the answer. Many facilities offer memory care services to help those with advanced forgetfulness take care of themselves and establish a comfortable life. Programs of this type help with medication, meals, and social activities to keep forgetful seniors healthy and happy when family arrangements and hired help are not feasible. 

Eventually, your loved one’s care needs are likely to exceed what you are able to provide. In these instances, hiring a service that has expertise in meeting the care needs of elderly individuals may become necessary. While individuals may feel guilty or otherwise concerned about using these services, they can simply be the most effective option for ensuring your elderly loved one is receiving the type of comprehensive attention that they require. 

Losing memories does not have to mean losing out on life. Consider options like these to give your aging loved one an enjoyable, safe life.

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