Memory Matters: Your neighbor has memory loss, now what
Your neighbor has memory loss, now what
When someone has a baby, both friends and family know how to help. When someone is diagnosed with memory loss, it can be a different story. Most people know someone with memory loss. Maybe it is an uncle or grandparent who forgets who you are, maybe it is a neighbor who seems confused. Sometimes, the person's memory loss does not register as a problem. The person seems to get along fine. However, this does not mean they do not need assistance. There are a number of easy things that we can do as nieces, nephews, grandchildren and neighbors that can help the person with memory loss and their caregiver.
* Social interaction is important for the person with memory loss and their caregiver. Often a diagnosis of Alzheimer's or another memory loss disorder is devastating to a family. Friends and family are an important source of support. Keeping in touch is important. A card or a visit can mean a great deal.
* Do little things, they mean a lot. If you are cooking, make an extra portion and drop off a meal. If you are doing errands, check with the person with memory loss or their caregiver and see if there is anything they need. Consider giving the caregiver a treat by dropping off a rented movie or a gift certificate for a massage.
* Give the main caregiver a break. Everyone needs time for themselves. A caregiver is no exception. Offer to stay with the person with memory loss so that the family member can run errands or visit the doctor. Even if the caregiver does not leave the house, it will provide them with personal time.
* Offer specific assistance. Do not just ask if there is something you can do. Many caregivers find it difficult to ask for help. Figure out what you can do such as mow the lawn, do the laundry, or run errands then offer to do so. If you are turned down, offer assistance again at a later time or offer to complete another chore such as doing the dishes.
* Be alert. Most people with Alzheimer's disease wander at some point during the course of the disease. Most people with Alzheimer's disease live at home. People with Alzheimer's disease can get lost in their own neighborhood. Know how to recognize their problem and how to respond. Learning ways to communicate and interact with a person with memory loss is beneficial to the caregiver and to the person with dementia.
* Encourage care for the caregiver. Caregivers need to take care of themselves. You can pass along useful information or offer to attend a support group with them. Local chapters of the Alzheimer's Association sponsor support groups, have information available, and have telephone HelpLines.
You can make a difference in the life of a person with memory loss or their caregiver. The Alzheimer's Association has a brochure titled "10 Ways to Help an Alzheimer Family." This brochure is available by contacting the Alzheimer's Association.
The Alzheimer's Association is a 501(c) non-profit organization. The Association enhances care and support for people with Alzheimer's disease, their families, and caregivers and encourages support for research. 5 Public Square, Ste. 307, Hagerstown, MD, 301-797-4892, www.alzgmd.org.