How to Cope With Feelings About Memory Loss

Helping to Conserve Memory Reduces Stress


Encourage reminiscences. A person afflicted with progressive memory loss may have vivid recollections of the distant past even when the ability to form short-term memories is impaired. Take a walk down memory lane together by looking at photographs and asking him about the the people and circumstances shown in them.


Follow a regular routine. When the line between past and present starts to blur, your loved one will find it easier to cope if a predictable schedule of daily events (meal times, outings, bedtime, etc.) is already in place. If you want to introduce any new routines, such as elder daycare, get him used to it early on in the disease.


Use written memory aids. Minimize the frustration he feels when he can't recall where something is kept by taping lists of the contents of cupboards and drawers on the outside. Note the schedule of his activities in a day book so that if he knows he has a doctor's appointment that week, for example, but can't remember when, he can look it up.


Keep the focus on feelings rather than facts. Among people with progressive memory loss, delusions are common but often serve as a way to vent emotions. Even when the memories are faulty, the feelings are real, so give him a chance to express them and talk things over without challenging the accuracy of all details.


Keep things simple. Understand that it will be difficult for him to absorb new information or form new memories, so repeat anything you want him to know or do frequently and don't confuse him with more than one statement or directive at a time.


Help him save face when his memory fails. He is going to forget names and the nature of the relationships he has had with some people, so when necessary, give him cues For instance, you can reintroduce him to his friend Bob by saying, "Your good friend Bob has come all the way from Tacoma to visit you."


Keep him physically active. Exercise helps to relieve stress and promotes sound sleep.

Tips and Warnings

  • Have your loved one's memory issues checked by a doctor to determine the extent of memory loss. Your doctor may suggest further visits with a neurologist.