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WHEN AND HOW TO TALK ABOUT MEMORY LOSS
By Rebekah Alcalde
Have mom or dad begun forgetting things? If so, it could be a sign of a larger issue, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia. It’s natural to forget things here or there, but if it begins happening often, consider taking notes. Keeping a detailed log can illustrate if there is a problem. You can also present your findings to a doctor to ask for their input or use it to help persuade your loved one there may be a problem.
Keep track if there have been signs of mental and/or physical decline and when you first noticed signs of problems. Common identifiers for memory loss include forgetting the year or month, frequently misplacing common items like keys or glasses, repeating themselves often, and having trouble completing daily tasks, scheduling activities and managing their finances.
If there are many “red flags,” it may be time to have the talk. If your loved one does have a form of dementia, their usual personality and preferences may have changed. They are likely frustrated and confused about what’s happening to them. Broach the subject sensitively, and try not to hurt their feelings.
At first, test the water by asking specific, but non-confrontational, questions like, “how has it been taking care of the house on your own?” or “how is it driving around in the city?” When you do take the plunge, plan it out. And always be kind. If you feel they will not receive the news well, consider having a neutral and authoritative third-party, like a physician, to help explain the facts.
From there, it might be time to consider a more helpful environment for your loved one. Safely living at home with memory loss is more of a possibility than ever, since many companies offer aging in place renovations. But sometimes it’s not feasible for an older adult to stay at home if their current home isn’t nurturing them. Stairs, slick floors and raised door thresholds can present a serious problem.
If you think it might be time for a new home for you or your loved one, consider talking to a senior housing placement specialist about your options. They will sit down with you, assess your needs and financial situation, and offer the best options they can find. They are also available for tours and guidance during your final search. You can contact a specialist at (410) 844-0800 or CarePatrolBaltimore@CarePatrol.com. Also find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CarePatrolBaltimore.