All the time, people are forgetting where they put their car keys, where they set down their reading glasses, or if they remembered to pick up milk at the grocery store. However, those who struggle with dementia know that these are simple things, and suffering from this very real, very intense form of memory loss is not an easy thing to live with.
Dementia has seven stages and affects each person differently. For example, some may simply forget short-term details, but are able to remember personal details such as their phone number and home address. Others need help with their day-to-day activities. When it comes to dementia, there are four common areas in which people with memory loss find to be troublesome:
- Separating fact from fiction
- Taking in new information
- Remembering events
- Recognizing people and places
However, there are ways to help stimulate the memory through communication techniques, dementia games and products designed for those who suffer with memory loss.
Cognitive stimulation therapy can be done by professionals and by those caring for loved ones within the home. People with dementia are understandably anxious about forgetting memories from their past, more so during the early stages of the condition. By reminiscing about memories, showing pictures of those memories, letters, or souvenirs, this can jog their memory and help them feel like they have more control.
Often, a person with dementia may revert into the past, for example, they may insist that they have to get to school or they will miss the homecoming game. When this happens, try to relate with them and understand what they are feeling. For them this is their reality, so feeling sad or contradicting them is counterproductive.
When it comes to communicating new information, for some, the part of the brain that allows the process and retaining of this new information may be damaged. This can cause them to feel as if what you are telling them is the first time they are hearing it, no matter how many times you have shared it with them. Be patient, keep it simple and repeat it frequently, don’t be vague, for example, ask, “Did you have dinner tonight?” and not, “Did you eat?” Finally, always avoid telling them that they have heard this information before.
Music - most people associate many important events, emotions, and memories with a wide range of music. Just like particular scents or foods, music has the power to jog the memory. Play music that they enjoy and dance, exercise, or just have it playing in the background during meals. Rhythmic and other well-rehearsed responses require little to no cognitive or mental process. They are influenced by the motor center of the brain.
Memory boxes - creating a memory box together can link them to the things they love or what makes them feel good about themselves. The box itself can be decorated in their own way, should be easy to lift, easy to access and store, and small enough to fit in their lap comfortably.
Sequencing pattern sort games - these can help reinforce the ability to sort by color and match color sequences. Preprinted cards can either have simple of more complex patterns on them, which they will have to duplicate with matching colored beads.
Devices and Products
There are a variety of tools available to help tackle different problems associated with memory loss. Look for ones that will fit their skills. For example, if they have never used a smartphone, they may find it difficult to start using one now. They might feel more comfortable using a phone with large-number buttons and amplified ringers.
Calendar clocks or dementia clocks - these are large-digital clocks that display the day of the week, date, and time without abbreviated words, which can sometimes be difficult for those in the advanced stages of their condition to understand.
Latch and key boards - this is a board that has all the things around the house that they may find difficult to either remember how to use or need help with their dexterity, motor skills, and hand eye coordination. Things such as, door locks, light switches, latches, and key holders.
Caring for a loved one with dementia takes a lot of time and a lot of patience. These helpful tips and products are designed to make memory loss easier for them and for you, the caretaker. If you have any questions concerning products that can help, contact us today and we’ll be happy to help.