17 Dec 2019 Dealing with Senior Dementia
As we age into our senior years and beyond, our physical abilities decline – we just can’t do the things we used to be able to do. We make adjustments in our lives to accommodate these changes, with varying degrees of success. Unfortunately as our bodies age, so do our brains and many seniors are afflicted with dementia (including symptoms affecting memory, thinking and social abilities), with Alzheimers disease being the most gruesome form of dementia.
Age-related dementia manifests itself in many ways. Memory loss is the most widely known result of this dementia, particularly with respect to short-term memory. A simple example of short-term memory loss is telling your grandfather about some upcoming social event and then having him ask about that particular event just a few minutes later. While this might be explained by grandpa not paying attention to what you are telling him the first time around, more often he has forgotten what you had told him just a few minutes ago.
Beyond memory loss another sign of possible dementia is a type of cognitive impairment, when a person has trouble making decisions or, as I like to think of it, “making a connection from Point A to Point B.” You can perceive this issue when you explain something to a person that would normally lead them to a logical conclusion but “they just don’t get it.” This can be frustrating to both the person who hearing the explanation as well as the person doing the explaining.
Change in a senior’s social interactions is yet another indicator of possible dementia. My dad, at the age of 88, moved from his condo into a retirement home, without the need for assisted living beyond meal preparation, laundry and cleaning services. Up to that time, he was extremely outgoing and gregarious; after the move he became much less inclined to participate in group social activities and even one-on-one events with friends.
While not cures, similar to exercise and proper diet for mitigating declining physical health not related to disease or accidents there are steps a senior can take to lessen the negative effects of dementia.
- Use your brain by practicing memory skills.
- Play brain-training games – a Google search will bring up many available on-line sources.
- Learn something new, such as a new hobby or doing volunteer work at a hospital or retirement home.
- Increase social interaction in small or large groups. Local senior centers have a wide range of social activities from which to choose at little or no cost.
- Control stress (aids in both mental and physical health).
- Recognize that there is a close tie between a good diet and physical fitness and mental fitness
Some medical alert devices, including the upcoming NudgeR from GoFind, have features for both the senior and his or her caregiver that help deal with dementia issues and keeping the brain healthy.
Getting old is inevitable, but we can take actions to lessen the effects of possible dementia on our valuable minds.