Having an aging parent who is experiencing memory loss can feel completely overwhelming for everyone involved. For them, facing the reality of their mental decline can be terrifying, and for you, helping them through it all can be extremely stressful. Having a set plan for how you can help them face this will go a long way in making things easier to manage. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Stay in Touch
You’re living your own busy life, and it can be difficult to carve out time to spend with an aging parent. However, research shows that older people who report feeling lonely are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s, so it’s extremely important to spend time together. Include them in age-appropriate activities that you can both enjoy, such as board games, golfing, or hiking on an easy trail.
If you don’t live nearby, a simple phone call is a great way to check in on an aging parent, and it lets them know that they’re not alone. You can even encourage them to try staying in touch through social media apps.
If they’re not tech-savvy but want to learn, make sure you start small. Spend one short session teaching them how to download and open an app, for example, and then spend the next day teaching them how to add a contact. This pace means they may not be able to use the app until a week later, but it prevents both you and your parent from becoming frustrated.
Encourage Social Activity
You may not always be able to spend time with your parent, so it’s important to encourage them to find social activities they can participate in with people other than you. Ask them to share their favorite activities with you, and try checking online to see if the activity is offered locally. Then, help them sign up. Many organizations have switched to using online forms, and older adults who are not familiar with technology may find themselves unable to join in with their local community because of this simple hurdle.
Even if technology is not a hurdle for them, distance may prevent them from joining in on social activities. If distance is the issue, consider looking into a high-end senior care community such as those offered by All Seniors Care Living Centres. These communities offer plenty of activities for their residents right at their doorstep, whether it be group crafts, exercise classes, or organized day trips. On top of that, the staff at these communities will also be encouraging your parent to join in on these events, which makes things less stressful for you.
Remind Them to Keep Up with Their Hobbies
When they’re not out socializing, encourage your parent to find a hobby they can do by themselves that will keep them mentally occupied. Stress and depression are linked to the development of Alzheimer’s, but research shows that people with hobbies are less likely to suffer from either of these issues. With the pandemic making it difficult for anyone, especially seniors, to safely visit other people, having a hobby is more important than ever.
To encourage them to keep up with their hobbies, show a genuine interest in what they’re up to. If they love to paint, ask about their latest project. If they’re a fan of music, ask them about what they’re listening to. Showing a genuine interest in their hobby gives them an incentive to add that hobby to their routine, which helps to stave off memory loss.