By: Heather Souve
Remember when you were younger and having your head in the clouds, or being “absent-minded” was something that was regarded as a humbling and affectionate trait? However, as you get older, those traits may be symptomatic of something far more sinister.
For many family members (especially those that avoid confrontation or simply don’t want to be a bother), it’s hard to tell when your senior is suffering memory problems and when they’re just forgetful. Certainly, you don’t need to be alarmed every time your senior forgets their wallet and a little obsessiveness over prized possessions (like asking if you’ve seen their autographed baseball or specialty tea set) can be “normal.”
In short, it can be challenging to know when your senior is suffering from memory loss when characteristically they’ve been fairly forgetful people their whole lives. It’s that group of families that may need the most help in determining when they should brush it off and when they need to seek out elderly housing.
Memory Problems or Just Forgetful?
We all forget stuff. It can be simple stuff like forgetting to lock the back door or forgetting where you last put your car keys. Plus, as you get older, there grow to be more and more people in your life (friends, neighbors, kids, grandkids, etc.). So instead of simply remembering holidays, you now have to remember a plethora of birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, etc. These are not easy to keep track of no matter what age you are.
And again, there are people that are simply forgetful. A recurring sentiment from elderly housing professionals is that “when your elder hasn’t paid the bills in a while, then they may need senior care” but even that may not necessarily be the biggest indicator, since we’ve all thrown out bills with junk mail by accident.
One of the reasons it’s so hard is because no family member wants to be that son or daughter; no one wants to nag their parent, saying, “Have you been having difficulty remembering things?” It’s a little bit backwards, but in this day and age, we’re more likely to chide our elder (ex. Dad, you left the stove on again) rather than express concern (ex. Mom, it seems like you’re growing more forgetful, maybe it’s time to get help).
While confrontation doesn’t come easily (or naturally to some people), it’s important that you conquer that fear when it comes to your senior’s wellbeing. In some circumstances, elderly housing may be just what they need with trained professionals to help with their memory… otherwise, their condition may worsen and by staying silent you do more harm than good.
If however, you want a surefire way of knowing when to talk to your loved one about their memory loss, see if they ask you repeatedly for something in one visit. If they show you a prized possession and then try to show it to you again in that same visit, they may be suffering from memory loss and in need of elderly housing.
In addition, another key indicator is if they ask for the time on a regular basis, since seniors suffering memory loss have difficulty keeping track.
Be wary of your loved one and be concerned when necessary, but above all, don’t wait to tell them if you think they should get help from a professional or within an elderly housing community.