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How to Communicate with a Loved One Experiencing Memory Loss

Shot of two cheerful businesswomen having a discussion while standing against a wall outdoors

If your loved one is beginning to experience symptoms of memory loss, it can be easy to feel discouraged and disheartened. While 40% of seniors aged 65 and older are likely to experiencememory impairment, only 1% of these are likely to regress into severe cases. Taking steps to change the way we communicate and help our loved ones remain mentally active can help to alleviate some of these symptoms, and continue to improve their quality of life.

Change Your Communication Strategies

When a person begins to experience memory loss, theway they communicate will begin to change. You may notice symptoms including easily losing a train of thought or trailing off mid-sentence, difficulty organizing and conveying thoughts, describing familiar people or places instead of calling them by name, and speaking less often or relying more heavily on gestures like pointing or signing. Repetition of thoughts, stories, or experiences is also one of the most common signs of memory loss.

Be Patient

While memory loss can be frustrating, remember to be patient with your loved one. If they lose their train of thought, allow them a few moments to gather their surroundings before interjecting or reminding them what they were speaking about. This will help them exercise mental strength and keep them from becoming frustrated or even embarrassed.

Avoid Arguing Or Escalating Aggression

It is easy to become irritated or argumentative when speaking to someone with memory loss, as they may often misstate facts or recall memories or experiences incorrectly.Try to avoid phrases like, "You're wrong" or, "That didn't happen that way." Instead, you can use phrases like, "Oh, wow. I don't remember that. How interesting." By avoiding sharply correcting or arguing with your loved one, you can prevent them from becoming upset or feeling attacked.

Hand in hand with avoiding arguing is not responding to or countering aggressive or angry behavior. Often, when people are experiencing memory loss they will become extremely frustrated and angry but may not always be able to express why. They may exhibit aggressive behaviors, particularly if they are being asked to engage in an activity they do not want to participate in. Do not try to force or coerce your loved one into something that triggers an aggressive response. Allow them some space, and give them some time to calm down before gently prompting them about the activity again.

Do Not Assume They Are Not Aware

Once our loved one starts to experience memory loss, it can be easy to assume that they are constantly unaware or forgetful. This can be damaging and unfair to them, as they may not always be experiencing symptoms. If you feel they are being forgetful or not recalling a fact or incident correctly, ask gentle clarifying questions to see if maybe there is just a misunderstanding. This can keep conversations from becoming aggressive or argumentative.

Consider Reaching Out For Guidance

When you love someone who is starting to experience memory loss or other challenging symptoms of aging, it can be easy to feel the need to take on every aspect of their care, including daily living tasks, transportation to appointments and activities, shopping trips, housework, and meal preparation. While we know you have the best of intentions, this is an easy way to lead yourself tocaregiver burnout. Experiencing burnout can lead to irritation, exhaustion, and other symptoms that can render you unable to communicate with or care for your loved one effectively.

Home care and senior companionship care can be an extremely beneficial and sometimes necessary step in caring for your loved one. These services include assistance with daily living tasks like meal planning and hygiene, medication planning, transportation to and from medical appointments or community activities like grocery shopping, and other services that can help alleviate caregiver stress and still vastly improve quality of life for seniors.

Utilizing home care and personal care services can help your loved one stay safe and comfortable in their home for an extended period of time. Living in a familiar setting for as long as possible can help alleviate many memory loss symptoms and can greatly improve their overall happiness and contentment. If you are in Orlando, Saint Cloud, Winter Springs, or surrounding areas in Florida and are in need of home care services, assistance, guidance, or even just an experienced caregiver to speak with,reach out to Senior Helpers today. We know that your loved one's quality of life is important to you, and we look forward to helping you any way we can.