Learning that someone you love has been diagnosed with a memory disorder can be incredibly upsetting. You may feel overwhelmed by different emotions, especially if the diagnosis is a debilitating condition such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. You will want to help them in any way you can, and the best way you can do that is by keeping a level head and being there for them emotionally. After all, they are the ones who are actually going through it first hand. Here is a guide to help you provide your loved one with the best support possible as they deal with their diagnosis.
Different Types of Memory Disorders
Memory disorders affect a person’s reasoning, recall, cognition, decision-making, and communication abilities. They can be caused by aging, genetics, trauma, and substance abuse. Memory disorders can even be caused by other health issues such as vitamin deficiencies and untreated diseases. Symptoms of a memory disorder can appear quite suddenly, or they may take years to show.
Alzheimer’s disease is a debilitating memory disorder that has no cure. This disease usually affects people in their mid-60s, and it affects 5.5 million people in the United States. Symptoms can range depending on the individual, but one of the first signs of this disease is memory loss. People with Alzheimer’s disease may experience spatial issues, impaired reasoning, and judgment, and they may experience difficulty with finding words when speaking. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disorder that can severely affect memory and thinking capabilities, and it is the leading cause of dementia.
Dementia is a progressive disease that usually occurs in older adults. It describes a category of diseases that cause deterioration in cognitive, mental, and mobility functions and loss of memory. The progression of the disease depends on the underlying cause and the type of dementia. Common types of dementia include Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and mixed dementia. Mixed dementia occurs when an individual has two or more forms of dementia in the brain.
Coping With the News
Following the diagnosis, your loved one may need time to grieve. Bad news can affect people in different ways, and your loved one may display a range of emotions after the diagnosis. Whether your loved one shows signs of anger or sadness or they become withdrawn, it is vital that you give them time to come to terms with the news and let them know that you are there for them when they want to talk. Having a memory disorder doesn’t define a person; remind your loved one that they are still the same person as before.
Living at Home
Depending on the severity of the memory disorder, many people can still perform activities of daily life and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Aging in place is where an older person lives out the rest of their life in their home is the preferable choice for many people. Living at home can help people with memory disorders retain their memory better and is a good choice if your loved one still retains their independence. In addition, your loved one can hire in-home caregivers to assist them with certain tasks in their daily life. Alternatively, you can personally help them with their everyday activities.
Remove Hazards to Avoid Injury
A great way to help your loved one is by checking their home regularly to make sure it is hazard-free. For U.S seniors, the leading cause of injury is trips and falls. As a person’s memory disorder gets worse, they may find that their spatial awareness deteriorates. By following this Home Fall Prevention Checklist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you can help reduce their risk of injury in the home. By making small alterations, such as swapping dim light bulbs with brighter ones, you can prevent your loved one from hurting themselves.
Memory Care Services
If your loved one has a severe disorder, or their disorder worsens, the best way to help them maintain a good quality of life is by using memory care services. Brandywine Living provides exceptional memory care services and is a fantastic senior living choice for people living with a memory disorder. At Brandywine Colts Neck, residents benefit from the care of licensed nurses who are on-site all day and all night. Brandywine is a free-standing memory care assisted living community, and it features a care and engagement program that provides residents with a vibrant lifestyle that nourishes the mind and soul.
As your loved one gets older, they may find it more and more difficult to stay on top of their finances. This is a sensitive topic to broach with many people, but if your loved one is willing, you can try to help them out. Go through their paperwork and documents and try to sort it out in chronological order. Look out for any missed payments and try to spot any irregularities. Chances are, your loved one will be relieved to receive help with this aspect in their life.
Besides financial support, it may be worth mentioning legal matters to your loved one. This includes the matter of drawing up a living will and entrusting someone they are close to power of attorney. Sorting out legal affairs while they are sound of mind is empowering, and it will help make sure their wishes and desires are met in the future.
Encourage Regular Exercise
Physical activity is important for everyone. This is especially true for people with memory disorders. Regular exercise can improve memory and cognitive performance; it can also lower the risk of dementia development. Not to mention, it can improve mobility, strength, and balance, which can reduce the likelihood of falls and trips. People with memory disorders can enjoy social interaction while exercising in a group by joining a fitness club. Alternatively, they can walk, cycle or practice yoga if they prefer to exercise solo.
If your loved has a memory disorder, take guidance from the above article for advice on how to help them.