If you notice several of the signs of memory loss in someone you know, the best way to help is to first have a conversation with that person about your concerns. After gently encouraging an honest discussion about what’s going on, consider taking the following steps to manage and thrive during this time of uncertainty.
If you notice several signs of memory loss in yourself, consider discussing your concerns with your own friends or family, and then taking the following steps yourself with their support.
- Talk with your doctor about your symptoms, what might be causing them, and what medications may be helpful to slow the progress of dementia. Although there is no cure, there are drugs that may help future decline and treat other symptoms that may be experienced.
- See a cognitive specialist, if you haven’t already. Specialized memory care clinics can provide expert guidance and treatment and offer social workers and case managers who can help connect you or your loved ones to services in the community.
- Complete durable power of attorney (DPOA) paperwork if it has not been done already. A DPOA appoints an individual whom you choose to make decisions for you should you become unable to do so. It’s important to discuss your care choices and preferences with the person that you select to be your DPOA.
- Make financial decisions for the future. Compile a list of all pertinent financial information including account numbers, assets, and debt. It’s important to also talk to a financial professional who can provide expert guidance and advice.
- Manage symptoms of depression or anxiety, if they arise. It’s important to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms which include things like social isolation, sadness, and changes in sleep habits. Talk to your doctor about treatment options available and consider seeing a therapist even if you haven’t seen one before.
- Manage other health conditions and get regular screenings for vision and hearing. It is important to ensure that other preventable conditions aren’t worsening the effects of dementia.
- Create a plan on how to live safely in your home when dementia worsens. Modifications can be done to your home to improve your safety and prevent falls and other injuries. Other devices like safety alert necklaces can provide reassurance if you are alone and face an emergency when no one is available to help.
- Connect with others who have also been diagnosed with dementia. Support groups allow you to meet with others going through the same life experiences which can provide encouragement. The Alzheimer’s Association offers local programs for people in the early stages of dementia. Visit the Rethinking Dementia Resource Guide for a full listing of support groups in West Michigan.
- Join a clinical trial. The Michigan State University Alzheimer’s Alliance and the National Institute on Aging can help you to search for clinical research and upcoming trials that are currently enrolling for people with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. Your doctor can also assist you in finding trials that you may qualify to participate in.
- Share your diagnosis with others to help reduce the stigma of the disease and find support from family and friends. The Alzheimer’s Association provides some great tips on how to do this such as providing education about the disease and having the conversation privately in a non-stressful environment.
- Continue to live an active lifestyle and continue to do the hobbies and things you enjoy for as long as you are able. This will help to prevent feelings of social isolation. Physical activity helps to promote blood flow to the brain and exercise promotes healthy weight and blood pressure, which can also reduce the risk of memory loss.
- Reach out to Rethinking Dementia for more information and assistance locating resources in West Michigan. The Resource Guide offers information about services in West Michigan that may better equip and prepare caregivers and others affected by dementia. Rethinking Dementia Resource Guide