Tips For Coping With Memory Loss
Once a busy executive with a large staff, MacInnes was expert at juggling multiple demands. Now retired, he keeps his tasks on track by writing them on a card. âI put down the five things that I want to do that day and I prioritize them, one through five,â he says. âSome days, I get them all done, and some days, I get three or four. But itâs a day-by-day focus and it does help me.â On a recent day, his list included: storing away the patio furniture, pruning shrubs, organizing the cellar, and organizing a wood-carving area.
Daily life becomes challenging because Alzheimerâs patients may clearly recall events long past, but quickly forget recent conversations and events. They may have trouble keeping track of time, remembering appointments, or recalling peopleâs names. To cope with memory loss, the Alzheimerâs Association provides the following tips:
As Alzheimerâs progresses, familiar tasks, such as balancing a checkbook, following a recipe, or making small household repairs, may become harder. Consider finding help if youâre having trouble doing certain things.
Infections Of The Brain Or Its Lining
Infections like HIV, tuberculosis and herpes can cause memory problems. HIV puts the function of nerve cells at risk by infecting the cells that protect and support them. The virus can also trigger inflammation that can damage the brain and cause forgetfulness. With tuberculosis, memory loss can be a complaint. However, prompt treatment can resolve these problems. Meanwhile, herpes simplex virus can cause a rare neurological disorder called herpes simplex encephalitis. This inflammation of the brain can lead to memory loss. Antiviral drugs may help if treatment is started right away.
What Are The Symptoms Of Dementia
Your symptoms may point to dementia if you have become significantly more forgetful to the extent that it is affecting your daily life. This is especially true if you:
- struggle to remember recent events, although you can easily recall things that happened in the past
- find it hard to follow conversations or programmes on TV
- forget the names of friends or everyday objects
- struggle to recall things you have heard, seen or read recently
- regularly lose the thread of what you are saying
- leave objects in unusual places
- have problems thinking and reasoning
- feel anxious, depressed or angry
- feel confused even when in a familiar environment or get lost on familiar journeys
- find that other people start to comment on your forgetfulness
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What Is Alzheimer Disease
Alzheimer disease, which affects some older people, is different from everyday forgetting. It is a condition that permanently affects the brain. Over time, the disease makes it harder to remember even basic stuff, like how to tie a shoe.
Eventually, the person may have trouble remembering the names and faces of family members or even who he or she is. This can be very sad for the person and his or her family.
It’s important to know that Alzheimer disease does not affect kids. It usually affects people over 65 years of age. Researchers have found medicines that seem to slow the disease down. And there’s hope that someday there will be a cure.
How Is Alzheimers Disease Treated
Medical management can improve quality of life for individuals living with Alzheimers disease and for their caregivers. There is currently no known cure for Alzheimers disease. Treatment addresses several areas:
- Helping people maintain brain health.
- Managing behavioral symptoms.
- Slowing or delaying symptoms of the disease.
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They Struggle With Daily Tasks
- Misplacing things by putting them in unusual places
- Confusion about time or place, such as forgetting where they are or how they got there and losing track of the passage of time
- Forgetting how to do routine activities, such as personal hygiene habits, grocery shopping, or playing a favorite game
- Issues with problem-solving and planning, including difficulty with work involving numbers, paying bills, or cooking
- Difficulty doing tasks involving spatial reasoning, as they might experience vision problems, difficulty with balance, or trouble judging distance.
- Struggles with vocabulary and keeping up with a conversation, which could include repeating themselves, freezing in the middle of a conversation, or calling familiar objects by strange names.
Should You Tell The Person They Have Alzheimer’s
Families may frequently ask, Should I tell the person that he/she has Alzheimer’s? Keep in mind that the patient and/or loved one can’t reason. They don’t have enough memory to remember the question, then think it through to form a conclusion. Caregivers and/or family members may often think if they tell the person with memory loss that he/she has Alzheimer’s, then he/she will understand and cooperate. You cant get cooperation by explaining that he/she has the disease and expect him/her to remember and use that information.
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What To Expect At Your Office Visit
The provider will perform a physical exam and ask about the person’s medical history and symptoms. This will usually include asking questions of family members and friends. For this reason, they should come to the appointment.
Medical history questions may include:
- Type of memory loss, such as short-term or long-term
- Time pattern, such as how long the memory loss has lasted or whether it comes and goes
- Things that triggered memory loss, such as head injury or surgery
Tests that may be done include:
- Blood tests for specific diseases that are suspected
Treatment depends on the cause of memory loss. Your provider can tell you more.
What To Expect At Your Doctors Visit
The doctor will ask you a lot of questions about your memory, including:
- How long have you or others noticed a problem with your memory?
- What kinds of things have been difficult to remember?
- Did the difficulty come on gradually or suddenly?
- Are you having trouble doing ordinary things?
The doctor also will want to know what medications youre taking, how youve been eating and sleeping, whether youve been depressed or stressed lately, and other questions about whats been happening in your life. Chances are the doctor will also ask you or your partner to keep track of your symptoms and check back in a few months. If your memory problem needs more evaluation, your doctor may send you to a neuropsychologist.
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How To Talk To Someone With Dementia Alzheimer’s Or Memory Loss
Communicating with a person with memory loss can be difficult, but the right strategies can bridge the gap and foster a more fulfilling relationship between you and your patient or loved one.
Those struggling to communicate with a person who has memory loss are not alone. As many as four million people in the US may have Alzheimer’s, and, as our population ages, that number is expected to increase. Anyone who is a senior caregiver is likely to be affected and will need to understand how to cope with what is happening.
Memory loss associated with aging, dementia, and Alzheimer’s typically doesnt happen overnight. Slowly, little-by-little, it sneaks up, until one day, family members realize that they can no longer communicate in the same way with the person they’ve known for years. They suddenly can’t rely on their words and their sentences dont match the situation.
Because we cannot see the diseasethe way we see a broken armits even more confusing when caregivers see how their patient and/or loved one will have good and bad days. The days when theyre alert and clear-headed make a caregiver hopeful. Then the bad days come, and family members and caregivers feel the pain of losing their patient and/or loved one all over again. This slow and normal progression of the disease makes communication a major challenge for caregivers.
This blog will share more information and advice to improve communication, including:
What Can Cause Memory Problems
If you are worried that your memory is getting noticeably worse, or if memory problems are beginning to affect your everyday life, it is important to visit your GP.
Memory problems can be due to a number of reasons. It happens to all of us from time to time – you can’t put a name to a face, you go upstairs and then forget what you went up for, you take a bit longer sometimes to find the right word. Most of the time, such slips are a nuisance rather than a sign of something more serious.
But sometimes memory loss can be an early sign of a medical condition, such as dementia.
Normal ageing vs dementia
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Common Frustrations & Difficulties
Communicating with a person with memory loss can be difficult, but the right strategies can bridge the gap and foster a more fulfilling relationship between the patient and/or loved one. For caregiverswhether you’re a professional or a family member caring for a loved oneits important to adopt a positive attitude to effectively communicate.
Engaging with patients and/or loved ones in an encouraging and patient manner will help minimize feelings of frustration. If you’re struggling to connect with a patient and/or loved one with memory loss, its important to know a few common frustrations and traps and how you can avoid them.
First, remind yourself that people with dementia and/or Alzheimers only have the present moment, so we can let them know that we enjoy their company. When caring for someone who has the disease, the most important thing to take care of is that persons feelings. A person with memory loss cant remember the minute before, they dont know whats going to happen in the next minute. They cant do that kind of thinking, so how they feel right now is the most important thing to pay attention to.
Facts About Alzheimer Disease
Alzheimer disease is becoming more common as the general population gets older and lives longer. Alzheimer disease usually affects people older than 65. A small number of people have early-onset Alzheimer disease, which starts when they are in their 30s or 40s.
People live for an average of 8 years after their symptoms appear. But the disease can progress quickly in some people and slowly in others. Some people live as long as 20 years with the disease.
No one knows what causes Alzheimer disease. Genes, environment, lifestyle, and overall health may all play a role.
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Play To Their Strengths
Sometimes memory loss is so devastating that we all forget that there is a person still in there somewhere. Family members can be distraught by what’s missing and forget that there’s still a lot there within the person, and that they have strengths.
They still have long-term memory, so its up to the caregiver and/or family member to find them. It’s interesting that, medically, doctors do tests on other conditions but when it comes to memory loss, it’s often looked at like a switch: Either they got it, or they don’t. Just like everything else, there’s a progression of memory loss, and its up to the caregiver and/or family member to find out where the patient and/or loved one is, and bolster that.
Strength #1: Long-term memory & stories
Everyone has a short-term memory drawer and long-term memory drawer, and we put information in each. People with dementia and/or Alzheimers have a short-term memory drawer that has no bottom. He/she puts things in, and then they get lost. The long-term memory drawer, however, has a solid bottom. Lots of stories that are retrievable await . Encourage your patients and/or loved ones to tell you stories. You can even use photos to encourage stories. Photos are wonderful long-term memory reminders.
Strength #2: Humor & music
Strength #3: Spirituality
Distraction: Singing & Reading
For some people, a distraction can be a good way to get the chore done. Its kind of a different communication style that helps in distressing situations. For example, if a patient and/or loved one likes singing, starting him/her singing could allow the caregiver and/or family member to ease into bathing time with a gesture.
Singing actually can help tremendously with memory loss patients and/or loved ones who can no longer talk, or have trouble finding words to form sentences, because they are usually still able to sing a song. Often, they can remember the lyrics of a song from beginning to end.
Many patients and/or loved ones can still read as well. Singing and reading can give the person great joy and hearing a loved ones voice can very comforting for family members.
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Are Memory Problems An Indication Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Not all short-term memory loss is an early sign of Alzheimers Disease . Mild forgetfulness and memory delays often occur as part of the normal aging process. Older individuals simply need more time to learn a new fact or to remember an old one. We all have occasional difficulty remembering a word or someone’s name however, those with AD will find these symptoms progressing in frequency and severity. The difference between normal forgetfulness or age-related memory problems and early signs of Alzheimers could be described like this: Everyone, from time to time will forget where they placed their car keys an individual with Alzheimer’s may not remember the purpose of the keys.
What type of memory does Alzheimer’s affect?
One of the hallmarks of early stage Alzheimer’s disease is short-term memory loss. Those with the disease lose the ability to perform routine tasks. Keep in mind that while AD affects memory, but it involves far more than simple forgetfulness. Learn about the progression of Alzheimers .
What causes memory problems besides AlzheimersDisease?
Many conditions can contribute to the development of memory problems and dementia Alzheimers is just one of them. A decline in intellectual functioning that significantly interferes with normal social relationships and daily activities is characteristic of dementia, of which AD is the most common form. Alzheimers and multi-infarct dementia cause the vast majority of dementias in the elderly.
When To Visit The Doctor For Memory Loss
If you, a family member, or friend has problems remembering recent events or thinking clearly, talk with a doctor. He or she may suggest a thorough checkup to see what might be causing the symptoms. You may also wish to talk with your doctor about opportunities to participate in research on cognitive health and aging.
At your doctor visit, he or she can perform tests and assessments, which may include a brain scan, to help determine the source of memory problems. Your doctor may also recommend you see a neurologist, a doctor who specializes in treating diseases of the brain and nervous system.
Memory and other thinking problems have many possible causes, including depression, an infection, or medication side effects. Sometimes, the problem can be treated, and cognition improves. Other times, the problem is a brain disorder, such as Alzheimer’s disease, which cannot be reversed.
Finding the cause of the problems is important for determining the best course of action. Once you know the cause, you can make the right treatment plan. People with memory problems should make a follow-up appointment to check their memory every six to 12 months. They can ask a family member, friend, or the doctor’s office to remind them if they’re worried they’ll forget.
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What Other Cognitive Changes Occur With Normal Aging
- Language is modestly affected by normal aging. Language is the words, their pronunciation, and the ways they are used in combination to be understood.
- Language comprehension is typically preserved, as are vocabulary and syntax .
- Trouble remembering names and finding words in conversations are very common and verbal fluency can also be affected
- While verbal intelligence remains unchanged with aging, the speed of information processing gradually slows .
- Executive functions remain normal for everyday tasks, but are slowed when faced with new tasks or divided attention .
- A slowing of the speed of cognitive processing and reaction time occur with aging.
If Your Loved One Needs Care
Although there is currently no cure, at The Kensington Redondo Beach we are able to improve the quality of life for those with dementia and their loved ones. We love and care for your family as we do our own.
We customize care to emphasize self-sufficiency as much as possible, striving to ensure that each resident has the ability to live as independently as their circumstances allow.
Please contact us soon for more information and resources about memory loss related issues and care. We are here to help as you decide what the right next steps are in the care of your loved one.
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Symptoms Of Mild Cognitive Impairment
Mild cognitive impairment is an intermediate stage between normal age-related cognitive changes and the more serious symptoms that indicate dementia.
MCI can involve problems with memory, language, thinking, and judgment that are greater than normal age-related changes, but the line between MCI and normal memory problems is not always a clear one. The difference is often one of degrees. For example, its normal as you age to have some problems remembering the names of people. However, its not normal to forget the names of your close family and friends and then still be unable to recall them after a period of time.
If you have mild cognitive impairment, you and your family or close friends will likely be aware of the decline in your memory or mental function. But, unlike people with full-blown dementia, you are still able to function in your daily life without relying on others.
While many people with MCI eventually develop Alzheimers disease or another type of dementia, that doesnt mean its inevitable. Some people with MCI plateau at a relatively mild stage of decline while others even return to normal. The course is difficult to predict, but in general, the greater the degree of memory impairment, the greater your risk of developing dementia some time in the future.