May 25, 2018

Living with a loved one’s memory loss

It comes and goes.
It’s disturbing. It’s worrisome.
It happens in some degree to almost everyone.

Whether we experience memory loss in ourselves or someone close to us, the saddest part is a loss of identity or recollecting past experiences that made us who we are.

But we are who we are.
We’re still here.
We can still say, “I am!” “You are.” “S/He is.”

To lessen the grief or frustration that inevitably occurs:

 Pray! Seek God’s wisdom and guidance.

 Slow down. Be willing to wait, to listen.

 Talk with a trusted doctor about tests and options. A physician may need to establish a baseline to chart progression or regression before prescribing accordingly.

 Become a health advocate. Check with a pharmacist or physician to see if herbal aids to circulation, such as Gingko biloba, can be safely used with medications. Some Internet sites provide reports of potential conflicts, which often occur when herbs and drugs are used for the same thing and/or taken too closely together.

 Assess a typical day’s nutrition. Plenty of water (6 to 8 glasses), foods rich in omega-3, B vitamins, zinc, and other minerals and vitamins can help to improve memory. White flour products and sugar cannot!

 Allow ample time to rest. Adequate sleep gives the body time to restore itself and replenish cells.

 Encourage activity. Physical exercise increases circulation. Mental challenges such as word puzzles or games can help to stimulate the mind.

 Lower the frustration level by avoiding explanations. If a loved one asks the same question over and over, answer as briefly as possible without going into detail. A simple “yes” or “no” may be all that’s needed.

 Avoid complicated conversations, pronouns, and vague references.

 Keep sentences short, sweet, and simple.

 Some days will be better than others. Enjoy times of reconnecting, however short they seem.

 Use touch when appropriate. A hug, a kiss on the cheek, a hand held, a loving phrase, a soft tone, a timely prayer can embrace, bless, and strengthen your loved one and you.

Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2018

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