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How to Help Someone With Memory Loss

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a drawn image of a young person supporting a senior. the senior has a thought bubble with squiggle lines in it, representing memory loss

Memory loss is common when older adults develop dementia or other cognitive troubles. As memory loss worsens, your loved one will likely need more support and help with daily tasks and activities. How can you help your loved one as they deal with memory loss? 

Continue reading to learn more about memory loss, including what’s normal in older adults and how to help your loved one throughout this experience. 

Memory Loss: What’s Normal for Older Adults? 

Memory loss isn’t typically normal for seniors as they age, but general forgetfulness is. It’s common to have trouble with things throughout the day. Typical forgetfulness includes: 

  • Forgetting to pay a bill
  • Forgetting what day it is & remembering it later
  • Misremembering a word or phrase
  • Losing things occasionally 

Consistent forgetfulness, struggle with daily tasks, and difficulty having conversations are not a part of normal aging. Your loved one may be struggling with memory loss due to dementia if they experience consistent troubles. Dementia progresses with time, and your loved one may have further issues with memory loss and other cognitive difficulties. 

How to Help Someone With Memory Loss

Memory loss worsens with time when someone has dementia, and your loved one may begin to struggle with confusion, difficulty remembering names, events, places, and dates, and trouble completing daily tasks. 

As memory loss progresses, you can help your loved one in several ways

Use Pictures & Writing 

Pictures and writing down information can help your loved one record things that have happened. You can use them to record events throughout the day or remind them of memories. 

If they’re interested, your loved one may benefit from a diary or journal. They can reflect on their day or record events and conversations, helping them with potential memory loss. 

Use Simple Answers 

Answer as simply as possible if your loved one asks you a question. Don’t tell them you’ve already answered this question before if they repeat it—this may happen multiple times. Repeat your answer as much as necessary for your loved one. 

You can always write answers down if it helps your loved one with their memory. Giving context to your answers can help too. Saying “do you need to use the restroom” can be more helpful than “have you gone to the bathroom today?” 

Give Them Time to Think & Answer

Your loved one may struggle with their memory if you ask them a question or they try to remember a recent event. Give them time to think before you try and help or remind them of what they’re trying to remember. Adding pressure may cause your loved one stress. 

Giving small prompts may help your loved one remember what they’re thinking about.

a drawn image of a young person supporting a senior. the senior has a thought bubble with squiggle lines in it, representing memory loss

Give Subtle Reminders

It’s common for words to sit on the tip of your loved one’s tongue when trying to remember the name of an object, place, or thing. You can explain the context or subtly remind them of what they’re trying to remember. 

If your loved one struggles to remember the name of someone, you can remind them without telling them they have forgotten the name. Saying something like: “here’s your niece, Samantha,” can help. 

Break Things Down into Simple Steps

Daily tasks become harder as memory loss progresses due to dementia. Your loved one may get lost as they get dressed, try and make a meal, or clean something up. You can help them complete these tasks by breaking them into simple steps. 

You can write these steps down as instructions to follow, or you can help your loved one in person by guiding them along as they work through a task. 

Use Reminders & Make Things Visible

Reminders can benefit anyone’s daily routine, but they can be especially helpful for anyone dealing with memory loss. A calendar or sticky notes around the house can help make tasks easier to complete. 

Another way to help with memory loss is to make things visible. Removing clutter and having the things your loved one needs out in the open can make them easier to remember. Laying clothes on the bed can make it easier for your loved one to remember to change. 

Practice Reassurance 

Your loved one’s confusion can worsen as memory loss progresses, making them feel overwhelmed or stressed. One way to help them feel safe and comfortable is to reassure them that things are okay. They may not know their surroundings, even in a familiar place like their house. 

Memory Care Can Help Your Loved One Live With Memory Loss

You can help your loved one as memory loss progresses, but they may need more support with time. When this happens, consider memory care to help your loved one with their daily needs. The services provided in a memory care community can help them enjoy a safe and happy life. 

Contact your local community if you’re interested in memory care or have any questions.

Ryan Donahue

Written by Ryan Donahue, Regional Vice President

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