When an aging parent has memory loss, caregiving can be very challenging. In addition to the physical manifestations of memory loss, such as not remembering to shower or not remembering to take medication, there is also the emotional toll memory loss takes on both the parent and the caregiver.
Frustration and depression are often experienced when memory loss is first experienced, by caregiver and parent alike. Communication becomes much more challenging as memories of past conversations and experiences elude the parent. With communication becoming more difficult, caregiving also escalates in difficulty.
Fortunately, there are people that have gone before you down this challenging road. Here are six of the best practices to assist you when memory loss impairs your parent’s day-to-day functioning.
1. Reassure Your Parent
When someone first comes to the realization that they are experiencing memory loss, it can be traumatic. They may become frustrated because they can’t remember important dates or simple tasks, such as remembering where they placed their glasses. Depression often follows memory loss, as well.
As a caregiver, you can help them navigate the changes their experiencing by reassuring them that they are not a burden and that you’re there to support and help them. This can help with the fear and frustration they’re feeling.
2. Help Them Not Get Lost in Familiar Surroundings
As memory loss progresses, your aging parent may find it challenging to navigate their way back home from a drive, or a walk in the neighborhood. Talk with them about using assistive technology, such as a GPS device. This can help them continue to venture out and reassure them that someone will know where they are if they get lost.
Other things you can do to assist them with this challenge are to be sure they have identification on them at all times and that it has your contact information, go with them as often as possible when they venture out, and let neighbors know that your parent is having memory difficulties so they can assist if necessary.
3. Make the Home Safer For Them
As memory diminishes, the need for assistance with safety increases. For example, many house fires start in the kitchen by someone forgetting to turn off the burner on the stove. In this case, you might consider taking off the knobs or installing appliances that shut off automatically.
Similarly, check fire extinguishers and be sure to have emergency phone numbers and the home’s address handy for your parent in case of an emergency.
4. Find Resources For Coping With Caregiver Stress
When a loved one is experiencing ever-increasing memory loss, your stress level as a caregiver can cause you discomfort. It can be comforting to spend time with others experiencing what you are, and comparing notes can be helpful. They may have some tools and techniques to help you more effectively deal with your particular situation.
In the meantime, practice good self-care. Make sure you’re getting proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep. Schedule “me-time” and take regular breaks to avoid caregiver burnout.
5. Check Their Medication
In some cases, prescription drugs can cause side effects, such as memory loss. Make an appointment with the doctor prescribing the meds to determine if adjustments can be made or new medications prescribed to help with the memory loss.
6. Ask For Help
Don’t go it alone. Many times, family members will provide additional assistance if asked. They may be hesitating because they don’t want to interfere or because they may not understand how challenging it can be to care for an aging parent with memory loss.
Family members may not always be available to help. If time or distance prevents them from assisting, consider using a professional in-home caregiver. They can provide you with the respite care you need, or fill-in for more extended periods.
Compassionate, High-Quality Memory Care
At Home Instead, our carefully screened aides can assist you with the care of your loved one with memory loss. Our agency’s mission is lifting the spirits of those we serve by offering them dependable and affordable home care options. To learn more about Home Instead Senior Care or to schedule a FREE consultation for a senior in Naples, Fort Myers, Charlotte County, or the surrounding areas today, please visit us at www.homeinsteadswfl.com.