This post was written for Stellar Living by Markentum.
Understanding memory loss is an important part of navigating aging and care options. But unfortunately, the phrase “memory loss” often conjures a series of misconceptions that can affect how we approach the topic.
Today, we are looking at some of the most common misconceptions about memory loss, as well as ways that you can overcome these hurdles and gain a better understanding of memory, dementia, and the aging process.
MYTH: Any Kind of Memory Loss is Alarming
There are many different levels of memory loss, and not all of them are cause for concern. As we get older, it is natural to experience mild memory loss – for example, misplacing our keys or temporarily forgetting a word while speaking.
As the Mayo Clinic advises:
“Normal age-related memory loss doesn’t prevent you from living a full, productive life. For example, you might occasionally forget a person’s name but recall it later in the day… Or maybe you need to make lists more often than in the past to remember appointments or tasks… These changes in memory are generally manageable and don’t disrupt your ability to work, live independently or maintain a social life.”
The key is that normal, age-related memory loss does not prevent you from living your life. However, if you or a family member asks the same questions repeatedly, gets lost walking or driving in familiar areas, or struggles to follow basic directions, it might be time to seek help from a medical professional.
MYTH: Memory Loss is Unavoidable
On the flip side of alarm is complacency – and one common misconception about memory loss is that there is nothing you can do to prevent it. However, there are many ways you can keep your mind sharp as you grow older:
- Eat brain-boosting foods like leafy greens, berries, and eggs
- Get moderate daily exercise (for example, a 30-minute walk in the morning)
- Engage in social events and spend time with friends
- Enjoy brain games, such as puzzles
By making proactive decisions and living a healthy lifestyle, you can decrease your risk of dementia and cognitive decline.
MYTH: Memory Loss is the Only Symptom of Dementia
If you are concerned that you or a family member may be at risk for Alzheimer’s or dementia, it is important to consider symptoms besides memory loss. For example, one possible symptom of dementia is insomnia – and along with that, napping during the day.
Recent studies show a possible link between excessive napping in older adults and dementia. If you or a loved one is experiencing insomnia and taking frequent naps during the day, you should consult with your healthcare provider for more information and guidance.
MYTH: Memory Loss Means a Decrease in Quality of Life
Whether it is mild cognitive impairment or more severe memory loss, changes to the brain do not have to result in poor quality of life. On the contrary, people living with dementia still have the desire to live vital and meaningful lives.
By partnering with a licensed caregiver who specializes in dementia care – or by seeking out a community that offers memory support to its residents – you can ensure that your family member receives the love and compassionate care they deserve.
If you are the caregiver for someone living with dementia, there are ways that you can help them live each day with purpose. It may require a reimagining of your relationship with that family member, but there are opportunities to create new experiences, forge new connections, and empower a person living with dementia to enjoy daily activities.
One of the most effective ways to build meaning into each day is establishing a set routine. This is especially important when it comes to eating, sleeping, and exercise – if possible, schedule these activities at the same time each day, making them a regular part of the daily routine.
You can also create joyful moments by infusing daily activities with meaning. For example, instead of asking the person to help you with a task, like cooking, you might ask them to help you prepare a meal for a friend. This adds a level of purpose to the task.
Although there are several misconceptions about memory loss, there is also a wealth of information available to help people overcome those misconceptions. If you want to learn more about senior living topics and find a community near you, we invite you to visit www.stellarliving.com today.