Supporting a Loved One with a Memory Impairment
Guest Post by Nina Sumner
Photo by Aaron Andrew Ang on Unsplash
About 40% of people aged 65 or older have age-associated memory impairments in the US (amounting to around 16 million people). While only around 1% of people will progress to dementia, around 10% of seniors have mild cognitive impairment. These seniors are able to live independently, but have memory impairments that are similar to those experienced by people with very mild Alzheimer’s disease. If someone you love is having memory issues, how can you support them, so they are able to carry out tasks such as taking their medication and being on time for medical and other appointments?
Practical Aids to Support Memory Impairment
Older people who enjoy keeping up with friends via social media may be savvy at handling smartphones, tablets, and other devices. Those with an interest in technology can rely on time management and reminder apps such as Medisafe Pill Reminder, Mango Health, or Bedside Reminders. Medisafe is a good place to start, as it is easy to use and has a simple yet attractive design. It offers personalized reminders every day as well as missed medication alerts, refill reminders, and scheduling tools. It provides both users and their caregivers with key information.
Seniors who are taking more than one or two medicines per day can additionally benefit from a pill medicine organizer storage box. The latter divides medications into three, four (or more) ‘boxes’ per day. These can be filled once a week so seniors can simply go to the appropriate ‘box’ (for instance, “Monday morning” or “Monday evening”), with all relevant pills for each of these times being contained in the same box.
Freeing Up Your Loved One’s Time
Seniors with memory problems can easily feel overwhelmed if they have too many tasks to keep track of. Time-consuming and laborious chores such as cleaning, equipment maintenance, and lifting should be carried out by loved ones or professionals. Seniors living in communal settings should be able to count on professional senior facility cleaners, who clean and sanitize common areas and personal spaces. Other tasks such as cooking—which involve fire and other potential hazards—should also be undertaken by third parties. Seniors who love cooking or tidying up can definitely carry out daily tasks, without having to deal with the most burdensome or riskiest components of cleanliness and maintenance.
A Healthy Diet May Reduce Memory Impairment
A healthy diet can help reduce the effects of inflammation and stress and improve brain function. Research indicates that the best brain foods are those which also protect the heart and blood vessels. Opt for a Mediterranean diet, comprising lean meats, plenty of fruits and vegetables, pulses, whole grains, and healthy fats. Just a few foods you should prioritize include green, leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, and broccoli (which contain Vitamin K, beta carotene, folate, and other nutrients), foods containing Omega-3 essential fatty acids (such as wild salmon, walnuts, and extra-virgin olive oil), and berries (which are bursting with memory-enhancing flavonoids).
Many seniors have some form of memory impairment, which can make them fearful about getting through the day and completing their daily tasks as required. Help them out by being supportive and patient, and by helping them learn to use useful tools to remind them to take their medication and fulfill other chores. Make sure they consume a healthy diet and go with them for a daily walk if you can. This will boost their mood and improve their working memory, while enabling them to enjoy your company and create a myriad of new memories to cherish.