People forget things every day – it’s a normal part of our day-to-day life. But there is a large difference between misplacing your car keys, and forgetting your daughter’s name. Forgetting things too often or forgetting things you used to remember easily can be pretty scary. When caring for a person with dementia, it’s important to know the psychological effects of progressive memory loss.
The Psychological Impact of Progressive Memory Loss
A study by the University of Birmingham shows that people use different mechanisms to cope with Alzheimer’s and cognitive impairment. These mechanisms range from defensive coping in the form of denial, to a positive acknowledgment of memory problems.
Many people who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, or similar forms of dementia, also experience depression. It’s underlined by a decrease in self-reliance, confidence, increased confusion and disorientation. As a result, some people recognize when it is no longer safe to live alone, and start relying more heavily on a family member or another caregiver. Others may fear that moving away from their home would disturb their daily routine.
What Can You Do?
In the early stages of progressive memory loss, there are things we can do to nurture self-reliance and improve physical and mental well-being. For instance, exercise and a healthy, balanced diet can benefit our bodies, as well as our minds. Exercise can induce a sense of self-reliance and confidence, and reduce stress and tension.
However, as the disease keeps progressing, an important question needs to be answered – can a person with advanced dementia keep living at home? Some studies point out the importance of nursing homes for such cases, suggesting that home care raises many problems. Most notably, safety-related problems and decreased self-reliance.
If you do decide to care for someone with progressive memory loss, make sure that you will be able to provide a safe environment that offers a good standard of living. If possible, the person with the disease should always be involved in this discussion.