“Memory Matters” for ALL Ages LINK TO PROGRAM
Many of you have walked the journey with a loved one with dementia or know someone currently showing the signs of cognitive and memory decline. Frequently someone attending my programs on a related topic will make the comment that they wish they had this information when they were a caregiver. It is important to remember that you do the best you can with what you know at the time and that you can help others now by sharing what you learned and refer them to appropriate resources.
Although I provide a lot of information and strategies to my patients and their caregivers, I learn something almost every time. Then I can pass information along to help others which is one of the reasons these blogs are created to correspond with the weekly ”Memory Matters” for ALL Ages cable show which covers a variety of related topics.
Some Things to Think About:
1. It is not uncommon when doing an assessment with a person experiencing forgetfulness that the person will say their memory is fine. They can tell you what happened when they were a child. They just do not remember what they had for breakfast. Memories are one aspect of long term memory but short term and working memory are essential to manage those daily responsibilities.
2. Sometimes word finding problems and repetitive questioning are not the initial signs of dementia. Sometimes it is changes in behavior that are more noticeable. Observe if the person is faced with people talking too fast, information overload, being tested to recall specific information, or dealing with too many distractions or interruptions.
3. Remember if you have met one person with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, you have met one person. Every situation is different and while general information is very helpful, getting professional help for all involved creates a more supportive environment. When friends and family work together with a similar level of understanding, the benefit is not only less stress but a team attitude which can enhance the quality of life of the person with dementia as well as those walking the journey with a loved one.
Tips to Consider :
1. When spending time with someone with dementia, leave your stress, worries and frustrations at the door. It can only increase their anxiety and may trigger agitation. Also limit interruptions, turn off the television unless you are watching it together and minimize your time with electronic devices.
2. Slow down the rate of your speech. If the person is hard of hearing, face them and turn off noise in the background. Keep the information short rather than going on and on.
3. Do not test them. The goal is not to have someone memorize their address or phone number or the names and ages of children and where they live. It is likely the person will only experience more frustration and may withdraw from situations. Writing that information in a memory book a person can refer to if or when needed has proven very helpful to many of my clients.
4. Consider an assessment by a speech-language pathologist for a personalized program. The person may benefit from memory strategies including written cues and memory boards or notebooks. Working with the grandson of a person with dementia, he programmed his grandmother’s cell phone with reminders to take her medications since she lived alone. She had a cell phone for quite some time so it was not too much new learning and he explained it in a way she understood after repeated practice. In cases like this, it is important to observe when a strategy is no longer effective and a new option will be needed due to increased cognitive decline.
TO DO THIS WEEK:
“Learning is a treasure which accompanies it owner everywhere.” Chinese Proverb
Link to “Memory Matters” for ALL Ages cable television show: Dementia Strategies.