Memory Loss in a Parent. Four Ways to Cope.
Noticing when an elderly parent takes longer than usual to learn new things or becomes forgetful can be worrisome. But when is it serious? Signs of a serious memory problem make activities of everyday life difficult, such as driving or using a phone. Some other signs of concern are repeatedly asking the same questions, getting lost in well-known places, becoming easily confused about time and people, and not caring for oneself.
“It’s important to encourage your loved one to visit their primary care provider about their signs of memory loss,” said Dr. Stephen Giorgianni, a primary care provider at Complete Health Ormand Beach West and Complete Health’s Chief Physician for Metro-Daytona. “We can perform tests and ask questions that help us determine the source of the problem and if they need treatment.”
Memory loss conditions such as mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer’s disease, which is most common in adults over the age of 65, can be treated by medication and therapy. However, it can be difficult to cope as a caregiver.
Dr. Giorgianni shares tips on how to manage your mental wellness while being a caregiver to a loved one with memory loss:
- It’s all normal – It’s important to remember that your emotions, guilt, and reactions are normal, and all memory loss caregivers have emotional ups and downs during their journey.
- Prioritize you – Your self-care will make you a better caregiver. Prioritize exercise, a balanced diet, and doing what you
enjoy to keep you mentally strong and healthy.
- Enlist help – It’s okay to ask for outside help. Especially when caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, caregiving is more hands-on. Hiring something to help with their grooming or to help around the house with cooking or grocery shopping can alleviate stress.
- Anticipate challenges – Discuss with the patient’s doctor the potential safety concerns and communication and emotional challenges that may come up. Creating an action plan ahead of time will reduce stress in difficult moments.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1 in 5 caregivers report fair or poor health. “Memory loss can escalate quickly. It can be overwhelming and scary, “ says Dr. Giorgianni. “Keep communication open with your loved one’s care team, and remember to take care of yourself first.”
To find a Complete Health primary care location nearest you, visit www.completehealth.com.