Caring for someone with memory impairment

Mother and daughter having tea on dining table
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The best way to support a loved one with memory impairment is to focus abilities that remain and not the abilities that are lost. 

Encourage your loved one and help build up their confidence by highlighting their strengths. Remembering together old songs, proverbs, poetry or stories can help make them feel present and connected. 

What our memory impaired loved ones want most is to feel useful and valued.  We can give them those opportunities by asking for their help when trying to engage them in an activity or providing care.  Rather than “Would you like to take a shower.” (to which the answer would likely be “no”) we might say “It’s shower time and I would really appreciate your help.” You might even say “I want to see if you like this new soap or shampoo or whatever.” The same applies to encouraging activities. Saying “Please come to exercise class- your smile lights up the room and makes everyone so happy.” Is likely to be better received than “Do you want to come to exercise?”

Here are a few things that can help maintain sense of purpose during the early stages of memory impairment:

  • Label drawers and cabinets. (Use words they recognize)
  • Help them find lost or misplaced objects. (Even if they're not lost)
  • Simplify complex tasks into manageable steps. (Simple directions do not mean simple activities)
  • Provide concrete cues to help them find their way around- Use words such as: "The dining room is next to the piano," rather than "the dining room is the 3rd door from the left."
  • Be patient and resist the temptation to treat them like a child when they struggle to understand.
  • Provide them purpose and never underestimate their abilities. Celebrate wins!

Remember, caring for a loved one is one of the more rewarding and challenging jobs out there. Don’t forget to take care of yourself so that you can care for your loved one. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

We're here to Help!

At Colonial Oaks, we’re here to help you start that conversation and assist with all of the emotions that come with it. Our team has been helping people for more than 40 years and specializes in making any transition as smooth and comfortable as possible. To learn more or to schedule a lunch visit click the link below.

Need help finding a community? Give us a call! (713) 780-8100