Dementia Strategies

“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.

Memory Fitness products by Kathryn Kilpatrick and products to enhance the time spent with someone with dementia.

About Kathryn Kilpatrick

Kathryn Kilpatrick received her Master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 1968 from the University of Massachusetts. She has worked in a variety of settings, primarily in Ohio, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and for decades in the area of home health care. Kathryn is president of Memory Fitness Matters (www.memoryfitnessmatters.com) and Communication Connection(www.connectionsincommunication.com). She offers memory coaching for all ages and has a geriatric consulting practice. She is a national motivational speaker and author of more than 30 products to enhance communication and connection as well as a Memory Fitness Toolkit. Kathryn brings her decades of experience as a speech-language pathologist to all those wanting to enhance their quality of life, particularly when there are communication, memory and cognitive challenges. Her websites offer information on a wide variety of topics related to elder care concerns as well as memory fitness and successful aging.
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