Memory loss in an elderly relative is difficult and can be confusing for family involved in day-to-day care of that loved-one. In addition to memory loss, the elderly can struggle with perception, concentration and reasoning.
“We call these issues cognitive impairment,” said Deanna Mangieri, D.O., interim medical director for Carolinas HealthCare System Senior Care. “They can be caused by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, stroke, Parkinson’s disease and various illnesses. Every underlying cause of cognitive impairment has its own symptoms, but family members and caregivers many times share common issues and strategies when dealing with their loved-one’s memory loss.”
Dr. Mangieri recommends the following two-step approach when caring for and interacting with a family member experiencing memory loss.
Have your loved one thoroughly examined by a medical professional to check both physical and emotional condition.
Some common ailments – such as depression or reaction to medication – can cause dementia-like symptoms. If memory loss is a result of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, medications may be most effective in the early stages of the disease.
Work with other family members and caregivers to assess what the needs of your loved-one are now and what you anticipate they’ll be in the future.
Needs will change over time for an elderly person dealing with memory loss. While he or she might struggle with grocery shopping or keeping track of bills at first, bathing and personal care may later be challenging.
An assessment of needs would typically take into account healthcare, personal care, household care, emotional care and supervision.
- Healthcare: medication management, doctor’s appointments, physical therapy
- Personal care: bathing, eating, dressing, toileting, grooming
- Household care: cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, finances
- Emotional care: companionship, meaningful activities, conversation
- Supervision: oversight for safety at home and to prevent wandering
Carolinas HealthCare System Senior Care has a memory clinic at Carolinas HealthCare System University, dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of cognitive impairment. For information, visit CarolinasHealthCare.org/Senior-Care#Memory-Clinic or call 704-863-9850.