Memory loss is a challenging condition that can affect all aspects of a person’s life. Whether you’re a caregiver or a loved one of somebody struggling with a memory condition, you may be feeling overwhelmed when it comes to supporting them. It can be easy to fall into the line of thinking: what if this means something worse? Does memory loss always lead to dementia or Alzheimer’s?
But don’t worry. There are many ways you can help a person struggling with memory loss. By encouraging mental and physical exercise, establishing a proper routine and structure for their life, and focusing on honest and open communication, you can ensure your loved one has the best quality of life possible.
However, it may be a good idea to start considering a memory care community for them to ensure they’re surrounded by a professional and caring team that can help with every aspect of their life.
Encouraging Mental & Physical Exercise
Physical and mental exercise can significantly help prevent cognitive decline in a person dealing with a memory condition. By encouraging them to participate in these exercises, you can help them build the muscles needed to help with memory loss.
Mental Exercises for a Person with Memory Loss
Some examples of healthy ways to challenge the brain include:
- Brain games, like a crossword puzzle or word search. These help train the memory and help build muscle to prevent cognitive decline. Make sure you’re choosing puzzles or games that suit their skill level—if they’re too easy or difficult, it may ruin any interest in them!
- Memory training games or programs. There are many apps and websites that help focus on memory retention. By building these muscles in the brain, you can help with their ability to recall memories!
- Reading. Reading challenges many parts of the brain and offers stimulation. Encouraging reading often gives the opportunity to learn new things, and helps with written communication and language control.
- Learning a new skill or taking up a new hobby. Building new muscle memory, building problem-solving skills, and building new neural pathways in the brain can do wonders to help with cognitive decline.
Physical Exercise for a Person with Memory Loss
When it comes to cognitive decline, it can be helpful to encourage physical health and exercise. It’s important to choose low-impact activities that are safe for the person in question. By encouraging exercises that are gentle on the body but still provide a benefit, you can make exercising fun and something to look forward to every day.
Activities like walking, swimming, or yoga are excellent low-impact options that provide many benefits. Make sure that whatever exercise you choose, it’s appropriate for both their health and activity level. If you’re unsure of where to start, you can always speak to your healthcare professional about the best way to exercise safely.
Routine & Structure
Establishing a daily routine can provide excellent benefits for your loved one. It can help reduce anxiety, confusion, and stress by providing a feeling of security and predictability.
Start by creating a daily schedule for the following things:
- Meal times
- Hobbies or interests
By having them help you create the schedule, your loved one can feel more structured and safe within their day. Sticking to this schedule can also give them something to look forward to every day!
It can also help to use labels and reminders on everyday objects to reduce confusion. Putting a label on containers or cabinets can clear up any confusion they may struggle with. By simplifying the environment, you make navigating their home much easier for both of you.
It can seem difficult to honestly and openly communicate with a loved one struggling with memory loss. It’s important that you approach every conversation with patience, empathy, and understanding. By taking their feelings and thoughts into consideration with every conversation, you can make sure they feel heard—this can make all the difference in the world!
It helps to communicate your thoughts clearly and use the best language for the situation. If they’re struggling with communication difficulties, using simpler language and shorter sentences can make it much easier to understand you. If they struggle with hearing or oral processing, try using written communication!
Actively listening plays a big part in open communication as well. We’ve all fallen into the trap of “listening to respond”—rather than thinking about what we’re hearing, we’re formulating a response in our head and waiting for our turn to speak. By honestly considering what the other person is saying in the conversation, you can make them feel heard, and that can make a big difference in how open you are together.
However, the most important thing to consider when communicating with a person with memory loss is to simply be patient. As much as you may be frustrated, they certainly are too. Being patient and avoiding losing your temper makes the conversation significantly more meaningful!
When to Seek Professional Help for a Person with Memory Loss
There are many ways you can help a loved one with memory loss. However, sometimes you can’t do everything yourself. To avoid caregiver burnout, it may be time to look into a memory care community.
These communities are specifically designed to address the problems that memory loss can cause, and the teams on-site are trained to help in any way they can. By providing a safe and supportive environment for their residents, they can help those struggling with any level of memory loss.
Seeking professional help is never a bad thing—it means that you want the absolute best for your loved one. Taking the steps towards getting them the care they need is sometimes the best way you can help a person struggling with memory loss. Schedule an appointment here at The Villages of Murfreesboro today, and let us help you and your loved one.