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Memory Loss Coping Strategies

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Coping with memory loss can be truly devastating, but there are many strategies that can help. This lesson offers some ideas for what you can do when you or a loved one is struggling with memory.

Coping With Memory Loss

As people age, one of the problems they are likely to encounter is memory loss, or forgetting things that happened a short or long time ago. A variety of problems can lead to memory loss. These include lack of sleep, stress, and side effects of some medication. Memory loss can also be caused by Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

If you or a loved one is dealing with memory loss, it can feel very scary and out of control. After all, we rely on our memories for so many things, from daily functioning to social interactions. Whether or not memory loss can really be resolved depends on what its underlying causes are in a particular situation. However, there are some things you can do to cope with memory loss and its emotional side effects.

This lesson gives you some strategies for coping with memory loss. While these strategies may not actually solve a problem and cannot substitute for a consultation with a physician, they can ease some of the struggle that often goes along with losing memory.

Memory Loss Coping Strategies

Try to Stay Healthy

When memory loss is an issue, it can be tempting to give up hope and sacrifice physical well-being. However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can both help with maintaining memory and prevent depression that is so often associated with memory loss. If you or a loved one is coping with memory loss, try to:

  • get a good night's sleep each night
  • eat a healthy and well-rounded diet
  • avoid smoking, alcohol and excess caffeine
  • get regular exercise.

If maintaining a healthy lifestyle feels like too much of a challenge, enlist help from friends and community. Having an exercise buddy or someone to help with cooking can make all the difference in pursuing healthy habits.

Maintain Social Interactions

Many people's instinct is to cope with memory loss by avoiding social interactions. After all, losing memory can feel shameful, and it can be hard to socialize when we are not sure where to go, when to meet up, or what to talk about. People who struggle with word retrieval as a result of memory loss may be particularly hesitant to socialize.

However, interacting with others can be a key to maintaining memory and can also help people feel a sense of worth and connection even in the midst of memory loss. If you or your loved one is coping with memory loss, try to develop a consistent calendar for social interactions. This might include weekly walks with a friend, telephone conversations with faraway relatives, or participating in a knitting circle or bowling league. Keep socializing lighthearted and fun, but keep it regular.

Use Visual Reminders

One of the reasons memory loss can be so scary is that we rely on our memories to help us do many of the things we need to do in order to survive each day. This includes basics like putting on socks in the morning, locking the door behind us, or turning off the stove. It also includes remembering loved one's birthdays, keeping appointments, and maintaining the chain of a conversation.

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