Tips for Helping a Loved One with Memory Loss

Tips for Helping a Loved One with Memory Loss

{At the Doctor’s Office}

7 Tips for Helping a Loved One with Memory Loss at the Doctor's Office: Steps you can take to make the visit go smoothly and be stress free.

I know there are many of us out there, members of the sandwich generation. We’re the middle “meaty” layer in our families, taking care of our kids as well as assisting elderly family members.

It’s a cinch keeping track of your children’s health. With yearly check-ups at the doctor’s office and visits to the dentist every six months, things seem to move like clockwork. But it can be much tricker to stay on top of an older relative’s care. Sometimes a crisis can be the catalyst that shows you how much you don’t know– crucial information that could make a big difference to their treatment. It’s better for your loved one {and for you} to have a handle on things before an emergency.

We have a member of our family who is dealing with memory loss. I’m sharing a few of the things I’ve learned that I wish I had known a few years ago. Whether it’s an crisis situation or a simple doctor’s visit, it’s so important to be prepared so you can do the best job advocating for your loved one.

7 Tips for Helping a Loved One with Memory Loss at the Doctor’s Office

1. Take a Picture: Use your cell phone to snap a photo of all the meds your loved one is taking, and make sure you get clear images of the labels in the picture. This can be essential information if a physician wants to prescribe medication. Bad drug interactions can be life threatening– and you can prevent them from happening. Also of note: make sure you know about any drug allergies they may have.

2. Be a Copycat: Make sure their main caregiver or the nursing staff at the facility where they live also has that info. You may also want to type the list out and have your family member keep a copy in his or her wallet.

3. Get the Record Straight: Many times, a loved one moves into a new living situation when their memory decline reaches a certain point. This may even be moving to a new city or state {which in itself can be incredibly stressful for them}. Make sure you contact their former  physician and dentist and get any records they may need.

4. Call Ahead: When you are taking your loved one to a medical appointment, it can be helpful to call ahead and explain to situation to the health care professional or their team. I’ve experienced feelings of helplessness when people get frustrated with my family member repeating the same question or not remembering an answer. It’s much better to let the professionals know the situation before the appointment.

5. Arrive Prepared: Show up at the appointment with any medical records the health care professional may need, a list of all medications {and dosages}, any questions or concerns you may have and also the insurance card/information for your loved one.

6. Advocate: Be your loved one’s advocate in the appointment. Be present as they are getting checked out and bring up any issues they may have. Ask for follow up instructions and get an extra copy to give the the nursing staff where your loved one lives.

7. Prescription for Patience: We live in busy times and we can get used to moving through our days quickly. When you spend some time with someone dealing with memory loss, you’re forced to take things slower. Make sure you plan for extra time to reach your destination. It’s also useful to adopt the mind set that you are there to be helpful, and your email and cell phone can wait. Most importantly, have patience and respect for your loved one. If you start with that attitude, it can make the appointment and the day go smoother for both of you.

If you have a loved one with memory loss and have tips to share, I’d love to hear them. Please leave them in the comments section. Hugs!

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