Elderly Cognitive Issues – Coping with Cognitive Problems

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 11,455
    Mary Alexander with Home Instead Senior Care talks about cognitive issues that our parents may face and how to cope with them. This video focuses on some coping mechanisms and how help a senior loved one who is suffering from cognitive dysfunction.

    Mary Alexander: Hi! I'm Mary Alexander from Home Instead Senior Care and today I'm talking about how to deal with cognitive issues. Now, we're going to talk about some coping mechanism and how help a senior loved one who is suffering from cognitive dysfunction. Caring for an older parent can be a difficult responsibility, but when you add in the symptoms of increase in forgetfulness and absentminded behavior, the care giving you are providing can become a more daunting and challenging task.

    Of course, consulting a doctor and other healthcare professionals to recommend a course of treatment is the obvious first step. But there are many things you can do to help your parent. Let's talk about those now.

    In fact, have them write down every new piece of information. A small notebook that they can keep in a purse or pocket would be handy to have at doctors' appointments or by the phone. Encourage them to use both words and picture if it helps them understand or remember the concepts later on. Some folks understandably don't want to appear silly or inapt. So they don't ask people to repeat information.

    If you're senior your loved one is suffering from cognitive impairment, let them know that it's okay to ask someone to repeat something. Sticky notes are very helpful to leave small reminders for your senior loved one. For example, if they forget how to use the coffee machine, write the instructions down on a note and stick it right on the machine.

    You can also help your parents improve their cognitive function through two forms of exercise, mental and physical. Just like muscles, the more your parents exercise their brains, the more they will be able to better process and remember information.

    Novelty and sensory stimulation are the foundation of brain exercise. If your parent has a regular route through the grocery store or through the mailbox, ask them to try a different route. If they can't leave the house, suggest a variation in routine, such as using the non-dominant had to brush their teeth or even wearing their watch on the opposite wrist.

    Health experts also recommend daily physical activity in order to reduce the risk of developing cognitive problems. One of the great things about physical activity is that there are so many ways to encourage your senior loved one to be active. Remind them that many physical activities such as brisk walking, raking leaves, or taking the stairs count as exercise and can be done most anytime.

    If you are seeing your loved one is confined to a chair for much of the day, try to find ways to encourage movement in his/her daily life. Some examples include leg lifts, grasping a tennis ball, or swirling scarves through the air to exercise on muscles. Since stress and anxiety can increase cognitive dysfunction, it's important that both you and your senior loved once stay calm when memory fails.

    If your parent becomes nervous every time he or she can remember something, quietly assure them that some memory loss is normal and perhaps they will remember it later on.

    One thing that you and your family and friends might ask is how to best communicate with a cognitively impaired loved on. The National Institute on Aging has developed a list of recommendations. Let's go over some.

    First, try to address the person directly and use simple direct wording. Second, gain the person's attention. Third, speak distinctly and at the natural rate of speed. Fourth, explain or re-explain who you are and why you're there. Fifth, support and reassure the person. Acknowledge when responses are correct and if the person struggles for a word, gently provide assistance. Sixth, present one question, instruction, or statement at of time.

    It's also likely that both you and your senior loved one will need support from family and friends. Be sure to ask if they can offer some assistance such as taking your parent to medical appointments, popping around the house and simply taking time to visit so that you can tend to your own matters.

    Caring for a family members experiencing memory loss or dementia can be physically and emotionally wearing. But by having watch this video you've just taken the most important step by becoming informed and finding ways to help.