If you are caring for an aging parent or spouse, you might notice signs that their memory and ability to understand is changing. Some signs of cognitive decline include forgetting appointments, recent conversations or events; becoming overwhelmed by making decisions or becoming more impulsive; struggling to understand directions or instructions; and losing his or her sense of direction or the ability to organize tasks.
There are some things you can do to help, such as encouraging your loved one to make a list or write down important items; making sure there is some brain-stimulating activity for the person; and that their diet is healthy. Establish a daily routine, involve the person in familiar tasks (folding laundry, making the bed, and so on), reduce distractions (lower the TV volume when speaking, giving directions or asking a question). However, cognitive decline may be a precursor to dementia or even Alzheimer’s disease, so be sure to document any changes that you notice and discuss them with the family member’s physician.
At FootPrints Home Care, we believe in being a resource to everyone struggling with care for an aging family member or loved one. We are happy to take your phone calls and help direct you to assistance, even if you’re not a likely client for our home care services company.
Along that line, if cognitive decline is occurring, it may be helpful to have resources that can help you. One is the New Mexico chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, helping those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease as well as their family or caregivers. A 24/7 helpline is available and support groups, either meeting virtually or in several New Mexico cities, may also be of help. Classes may also help you learn what to expect in the journey ahead.
There is a lot of research happening related to dementia. If your loved one is in the early stages of cognitive decline, you may want to investigate clinical trials across the United States that are advancing dementia research. The Alzheimers.gov website, part of the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services lets caregivers search for clinical trials. The site also has dementia-related information pertinent to veterans and all who struggle with aging.
As the caregiver for someone in cognitive decline or struggling with dementia or Alzheimer’s, you may need occasional respite care. It’s important that you use that resource, to take care of your own physical, mental and emotional health. If there are no other family members to share in the care, FootPrints’ caregivers are trained in working with the elderly who have changes in their cognition. If we can be of help to provide resources or respite care, whether it’s an hour or a few days, please call us. Our mission is to be a blessing, serving New Mexico’s elderly and their families.