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Providing Comfort and Support for Older Adults with Memory Challenges

Mom misplaced her keys … again. Dad excitedly told you a story about a new friend, but you know that he actually met this “new” friend several months ago.

If you notice that a friend or loved one is becoming forgetful or showing signs of memory loss, how do you determine whether the changes are simply due to aging, or if something more is happening? Because dementia encompasses a number of conditions, symptoms vary greatly.

Nearly 6 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease today, with numbers projected to more than double by 2050. While there are differences between Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related conditions, the emotional impact on families remains the same.

If you are concerned about a loved one’s memory loss, what are your options?

  • Are you able to talk with your loved one about your concerns?
  • Is your loved one willing to speak with their doctor?
  • Can you share your concerns with their doctor?

If your loved one is resistant to talk with a doctor but you feel their safety is at risk, write down your concerns and share them with your loved one and their healthcare provider. Hearing the concerns from a trusted healthcare adviser may be more effective than hearing from an adult child, friend or spouse, no matter how sincere or well meaning the message may be. Consider scheduling a consultation with a medical professional if your loved one has significant difficulty with at least two of the following:

  • Memory
  • Communication/language
  • Ability to focus/pay attention
  • Reasoning/judgment
  • Visual perception