As time goes on, we all experience memory loss of one form or another. Some memory loss is the simple product of aging—seniors simply don’t remember as well as younger folks do. This doesn’t mean that all older adults have dementia (or, worse, Alzheimer’s disease), it just means that you’re getting older. Memory impairment comes in all degrees as well. Some seniors simply don’t remember a word or forget where they put their keys. Other older adults may find that memory impairment impacts their quality of life more seriously—they become unable to take care of themselves and need the aid of a caregiver.
With all that being said, how does mental illness play a part in the landscape of memory loss? Well, as it turns out, it may be a major factor in the speed of deterioration those with memory impairment experience. Memory care practitioners have seen that depression, for example, has an important connection to forgetfulness and confusion. If you have a family member who is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, it may be worthwhile to look into some ways to mitigate this by forming a care plan that addresses both the physical cognitive impairment and the mental health side of things.
There are memory care facilities that may be right for your family member.
Beyond the simple need for a caregiver who has experience with your loved one’s individual needs, you may find that you need a level of care that you can’t achieve with a part-time in-home caregiver. In this case, it might be time to do some research and look for an assisted living facility that specializes in memory care. A memory care community will be able to both provide a secure environment wherein your family member can go about their daily activities safely, as well as memory care staff that understands the specific behaviors and needs of people who are facing dementia or Alzheimer’s. This type of round-the-clock sensitivity simply can’t be provided to dementia patients with home care options, especially when it comes to long-term care that may become exhausting to you or other family members who have become caregivers in lieu of professional medical care.
Find mental health services that are convenient for the seniors you love.
If your family member is in the early stages of dementia and you don’t need a memory care facility quite yet, you can still mitigate the progression of their dementia by finding them therapy to work through their struggles with their cognitive deterioration. Knowing that your loved one is getting therapy at a local, convenient clinic (like the Therapy Group of Charlotte, if you’re in Charlotte, NC) will give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re giving them the extra time to work through tough emotional processes. Many therapy options around the United States are covered by Medicare, so if the seniors in your life are Medicare recipients, it’s worth checking in on that.
Look after your own mental health as well.
Your mental health also matters. After all, you can’t very well be a caregiver to your aging parent if you are struggling to manage the difficult emotions that come with seeing their cognitive function decline. Take time to find a therapist for yourself as well. Nervous about COVID-19? Plenty of therapy has moved online, so you can get the compassion you need without risking a positive COVID-19 test. Therapists are well aware of the extra safety measures that are necessary these days, so you can (and should!) care for your own mental wellness, just as you would any other family member. Even if it means taking medication for anxiety or depression, make sure you care for yourself so that you can be there for the seniors you love