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How to Help an Elderly Parent with Memory Loss

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An adult female is playing a chess board with her senior father.

Supporting a parent or loved one as they age can be a challenge. This is especially true if you begin to notice gradual changes to your loved one’s mind and body. Memory loss is one of the more common changes you may notice when caring for an elderly parent. 

Occasional forgetfulness is often a normal part of the aging process, whether it’s forgetting where you’ve left your reading glasses or you can’t recall the name of a new neighbor. According to a report in the National Library of Medicine, about 40% of seniors aged 65 and older experience some degree of memory loss. However, if memory loss starts to impact everyday activities like driving or medication management, it may be time to seek the help of a medical professional who can screen for dementia and Alzheimer’s. 

Seniors living with memory loss may require more comprehensive memory care than what can be provided at home by a loved one, and they may benefit from moving into a memory care community, such as The Fairways at Naples.  

If your elderly parent is not at the stage where they may benefit from professional memory care, there are still a number of things you can do to support them.

A senior man is holding a bowl of cereal and fruits for breakfast.

6 Ways You Can Help an Elderly Parent With Memory Loss

Encourage Them to Stay Active & Engaged

Maintaining an active lifestyle is a great way for seniors to stay engaged with the world around them. Encourage your senior parent to regularly partake in their favorite hobbies and social groups. 

Activities like puzzles, reading, and word games are other great ways to keep their minds active. Motivating your loved one to participate in physical activities and exercise that align with their physical abilities is another way you can support healthy aging. Even a leisurely walk around the neighborhood can promote physical and mental health. 

Create a Routine

It’s easy for anyone to forget things in the chaos of everyday life. Maintaining a consistent schedule is a good way to ensure that your senior parent stays organized and on task. Work with them to create a structured routine and build habits like leaving their reading glasses in the same spot or taking their medication at the same time each day. 

Maintain a Healthy, Balanced Diet

Help your elderly loved one maintain a healthy balanced diet to promote healthy aging and brain function. This could include cooking a healthy meal together, helping to prepare their meals ahead of time, or signing them up for pre-made meal delivery. 

Older adults should maintain a varied diet that is rich in essential vitamins. Some healthy food options include:

  • Fatty fish: Fatty fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have shown promise in slowing age-related mental decline. Eating two servings of fatty fish such as salmon, cod, and canned tuna per week can help ensure that your loved one gets a sufficient amount of omega-3s in their diet. Not a fan of fish? Foods like walnuts, spinach, and flaxseeds are also rich in omega-3. 
  • Berries: Berries are packed with essential vitamins to promote healthy aging. Berries like blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are particularly good options as they are packed with antioxidants and studies show that they can help prevent age-related mental decline. 
  • Leafy greens: Rich in brain-healthy nutrients like vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene, leafy greens are great to add to meals. Incorporating leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach, and collards into your diet may also help slow mental decline. 

If you are having trouble ensuring that your elderly loved one is eating a healthy, balanced diet, consulting their healthcare provider about supplements can be a good way to ensure that they are getting all of the necessary vitamins and nutrients to promote healthy aging. 

Create a Reminder System

Assist them in creating a reminder system, like a calendar or to-do list, to help them keep track of upcoming events, appointments, and tasks. For more tech-savvy seniors, setting up reminders on their smartphone or a smart speaker can be a helpful way to make sure that reminders are front of mind and allow you to check in on them more regularly. 

Be Patient & Supportive

Memory loss is a common part of aging. It’s important to be understanding and patient with your loved one. Create a safe home environment for your senior parent and ensure that they have easy access to essential items like medication or eyeglasses. If your elderly parent lives alone, check in with them regularly to ensure that they feel supported. 

Seek Help When Necessary

You do not have to go it alone when supporting an elderly parent. Consulting with a healthcare provider may be an important step in identifying what type of support your loved one needs, especially if you notice that their memory loss is progressing. 

Memory Care Support for Your Loved One

If your elderly parent is diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s, they may benefit greatly from transitioning into a memory care community. At The Fairways at Naples, we provide personalized support to our residents which includes 24/7 nursing care, professionally-led health and wellness programs, and in-house physical exams. 

If you would like to learn more about our memory care community, contact us here

Written by Fairways At Naples

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