Everyonehas a “senior moment” now and then when they forget about an appointment they had scheduled or forget the name of a coworker's spouse when telling a story about that coworker to their own family. Garden variety forgetfulness is not always a sign of Alzheimer's or another type of dementia diagnosis, although it is unsettling to see an elderly family member's memory become less and less reliable. People of all ages have trouble remembering and keeping track of information for reasons that have nothing to do with dementia. There has probably been a time that you forgot something you really should have known because you were stressed, busy and distracted, drunk, or just tired. If an elderly family member does not remember something you told them yesterday, you should not panic. You should, however, think about the future and acknowledge that your elderly relative's memory may steadily get worse over time. It is a good idea to include a Northern Kentucky long-term care planning lawyer in the discussions.
Physical Health, Emotional Well-Being, and Memory Go Together
You are wise to be skeptical about those nutritional supplements that claim to improve elderly people's short-term memory. Some causes of memory loss in the elderly are reversible, however, in the sense that memory loss is sometimes a sign of an underlying medical condition, and when you treat the underlying condition, you may see your elderly relative become better at keeping appointments and engaging in conversation. Impaired memory could be attributable to one of the following causes:
- Medication side effects
- Clinical depression or acute or chronic emotional distress
- Alcohol use
- Poor nutrition
- Poorly controlled chronic illnesses
In other words, elderly people who are well cared for physically and emotionally are less likely to consistently show signs of memory impairment. A healthy diet, physical activity, and social interaction are good for the physical and mental health of people of all ages and can help elderly people keep their memory active.
When Does Memory Loss Affect an Elderly Person's Ability to Live Independently?
Occasional forgetfulness does not interfere with an elderly person's ability to live independently, but severe memory impairment can be dangerous. Someone who forgets where they live or forgets to turn off a gas stove cannot safely live alone. Therefore, it is important to think about long-term care plans before things get to that point. Forgetfulness is not the only sign of cognitive impairment. Persistent irritability and impulsive decision-making can be signs of Alzheimer's disease or other types of age-related dementia; in some cases, these symptoms become noticeable even before family members begin to notice that the elderly person's memory is becoming less reliable.
Contact Darpel Elder Law About Preparing for Not Being Able to Live Independently
Whether due to memory loss or chronic illness, most elderly people will need long-term care at some point. An elder law attorney can help you make the best decisions to ensure that your elderly family members can get long-term care when they need it. Contact Darpel Elder Law in Crestview Hills, Kentucky, or call (859) 341-4100.