If you have a loved one with memory loss, it can be challenging to know when to help and when to step back. Though your intentions are probably in the right place, you and your loved one may disagree about your role in their life. Here are a few tips to help a senior with memory loss remain independent.
Helping a Senior with Memory Loss Remain Independent
- Try not to make assumptions.
When caring for a loved one with memory loss, it’s important not to make assumptions about their abilities. Everyone experiences memory loss differently. Some may need help with day-to-day activities, while others may only struggle with tasks that require organization, such as finances.
The rate that their symptoms progress also varies. Your loved one may not need assistance for years, or they may require help sooner. Unless they are putting their safety in immediate danger, assess their abilities before offering your support. More often than not, it’s best to let them ask you for help.
- Play up their strengths.
One simple way you can help your loved one remain independent is by adapting everyday tasks to accommodate their abilities. For example, if your loved one struggles to use utensils, you can prepare finger foods. Or perhaps your loved one has difficulty with buttons. Help them pick out a sweater without buttons so they can get dressed on their own.
- Stick to a schedule.
It’s common for people with memory loss to rely on routine to complete their daily responsibilities. Doing activities in the same sequence helps them remember what they need to do. Knowing what to expect can give them a sense of security. Too many changes from day to day can be confusing. Although adjustments in routine are inevitable, it’s helpful to try and stick to a schedule as much as possible. Make sure their routine includes consistent times for waking up, having meals, enjoying social activities, and going to bed.
- Offer emotional support.
Many caregivers focus on keeping their loved ones safe from physical harm, but emotional support is also important. Your loved one is going through a difficult time. You can help them cope with memory loss by listening and being empathetic to their struggles. Do your best to keep the lines of communication open and encourage them to share their feelings.
- Support a healthy lifestyle.
A healthy lifestyle is essential for independence, regardless of whether a person has memory loss. Encourage your loved one to stay active and eat a healthy diet. Here are a few additional suggestions for healthy living:
- Manage stress with healthy techniques like meditation or yoga.
- Take medications and report unfavorable side effects to a doctor.
- Stay on track with medical appointments.
Maintaining a Loved One’s Independence
Keeping loved ones safe while preserving their independence isn’t always easy. There is a fine line between being helpful and taking over too many responsibilities. By understanding your loved one’s disease and supporting them through their challenges, you can help them stay independent for as long as possible.
Specialized Dementia Care at Heritage Senior Communities
If you are concerned about your ability to help your loved one with memory loss remain independent, you may want to explore local memory care programs. Heritage Senior Communities offers specialized dementia care across Michigan. Our communities are designed to create a safe, controlled environment so seniors with memory challenges can live independently.
Contact us today to learn more or to schedule a private tour!