Approaching a Loved One About Memory Loss

This week we dive back into the radio talk show that focuses on Alzheimer’s disease. We listen in and learn form the Alzheimer’s Association as they address a callers question about how to approach her mom that is showing signs of memory loss. I really like the advice they give as they encourage an honest and open conversation. This topic seems like a hard one to engage but as we learn it is important to identify the cause of the problem while there could be time to fix it.

Mike McIntyre :

Welcome Laura from Bane Bridge, please join our conversation with our experts.

discussing dementia

Honest and Open Conversation

Caller – Laura :

Hi Good morning. My mom is 84 and she seems to be a bit forgetful and repeating her self occasionally. I want to know what is the first step would be and I understood that sometimes when you bring this up to the person [dementia] that they can become upset and it triggers more stress and more issues. So what is the best approach in approaching the person with whom you are questioning in getting their memory tested.

Mike McIntyre :

Cheryl some thoughts on that? The best approach to addressing this to somebody with concerns she has, and also, the reaction might be “I dont want to hear that!” and so how do you deal with that barrier?

Cheryl Kanetsky :

One of the suggestions that we offer in that situation is to ask the person if they have noticed any changes themselves and to see what their response might be. A lot of times people might notice these changes but are trying desperately to cover them up in fear or worry about what this might mean. So I think from the beginning trying to have open and honest conversations and dialogue on what you are noticing, what I’m noticing, and what this might mean. Another thing that helps with an approach is to really put out there that if you are experiencing some memory changes or problems in this area that there is likely, as the doctor had mentioned, 50-100 things that could be causing the memory problem. Anywhere from vitamin deficiency, anemia, to depression, and a lot of those things are treatable and reversible so those are basics for our initial suggestions. If you are experiencing some memory problems lets get it checked out because there might be something we can do to improve it and it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the dreadful feared Alzheimer’s disease.

Mike McIntyre :

You might jump to that right away because they are forgetting but than again they might be on a new medication for example.

Cheryl Kanetsky :


Mike McIntyre :

really good point, good advice, we appreciate that.

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