Caring for someone who is experiencing memory loss can be very concerning. Your first inclination might be to get your loved one assessed by a medical professional to find out what is causing mom or dad to have trouble remembering recent events.
Before you do so, however, you’ll need to have a conversation with your mom, dad, friend or family member about the problem—a conversation that can prove to be difficult. Here’s some advice to consider before having the conversation.
Prepare for the Conversation
Rehearse what you will say beforehand. Having the talk can be stressful and may flare up your emotions. If you prepare your talking points ahead of time, you’ll be more relaxed and less likely to become reactionary.
Find the Right Environment
Have the conversation one-on-one so your loved one doesn’t feel as though he or she is being put on the spot. Talk in a quiet and private area where there are minimal distractions. Turn the television off, mute your cell phone, and keep the focus on the conversation at hand.
Be gentle, encouraging, and practice patience. Although it may be difficult, it’s best to remain calm, even if your loved one gets upset. Put yourself in your loved one’s shoes and recognize that he or she is likely scared or confused.
Remind your loved one that although it’s easy to assume Alzheimer’s is to blame, memory loss can be attributed to a host of other causes, such as a vitamin deficiency, depression, lack of sleep, hearing loss, or even a reaction to medicine. A doctor will be able to evaluate the situation and can guide you toward any next steps.
Develop a Plan
If the conversation goes well, create a plan together. This should include having your loved one’s memory checked by a doctor. Ask your loved one to help prepare for that meeting by coming up with a list of questions.
If the conversation didn’t go as well as planned, try again later or employ the help of someone else, like a family member or your loved one’s doctor. Because memory loss can feel like a loss of independence, your loved one may become defensive and resistant. If they need help, however, it’s important to remain patient and persistent.
Finally, don’t try to tackle everything at once. Your loved one might need some time to digest that they are experiencing memory loss before they are ready to seek help. Have heart, any major transition will take time, but it’s important to begin the conversation early, keep an open dialogue, and get your loved one the care they need.