Studies estimate that up to 40 percent of adults over age 50 suffer from age-related memory loss. Diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia affect thousands of elderly Americans as well as their caregivers and loved ones. Renowned psychologist Dr. Dale Atkins, PhD. was recently interviewed on the TODAY show where she offered ways caregivers and friends and family members of victims of memory loss can remain connected. Here are a few of her suggestions:
• Continue to take part in events and activities that you both previously enjoyed together and still love to do. This helps remind your friend that these times are valuable to you.
• Incorporate music into daily activities. Many people with memory issues retain their appreciation of music for a long time and listening to their favorite tune is something that can bring great joy. Attend musical performances and concerts together or tell stories about favorite musicians.
• Engage through diet and exercise. Doing something active gets more oxygen to the brain and regular exercise reduces the risk for disorders that can lead to memory loss such as diabetes.
• Participate in mental exercises. Similar to how physical exercise keeps your body strong and healthy, mental exercise can help your brain function better. Strategy games such as chess, bridge and Scrabble are great ways to help keep an older mind sharp.
• Encourage organization and routine. Help your senior utilize calendars, clocks, lists and notes to focus on the task at hand. Suggest they keep easy-to-lose items in the same place each time after using them or park their car in the same place if they still drive.
It’s not easy dealing with a loved one who suffers from memory loss but it’s important to remain in touch and connected. Focus on the good times that can still be had, rather than the ones from the past.