Grandma Can’t Remember, Now What?

Are you charged with the burden of care for a family member? It can be an overwhelming task that can take an emotional toll on all those involved. It is important to set up a strategic plan for you, your loved one, and any other family members or friends that are involved.

Often the elderly person will feel a sense of a loss of control as their health and memory declines. They may need more help and are too proud to ask – or feel that they are burdensome to the family. Sometimes these changes can go unnoticed for months. This happens easily as the person may stumble on memory and the family or friends will finish sentences and anticipate needs. Though this may seem helpful to the elderly person it can make it easy for them to cover up how bad they are doing. Give them a moment to try and remember what they wanted to say to see if they recall it. Make notes of how often this happens if you are concerned.

My great grandmother covered her memory loss so well that by the time we had a part-time aid she was actually beyond the scope of part-time and needed around the clock care. This was during a time that family members and friends saw her almost every day!! They knew that she was declining but did not know what to look for and unintentionally helped her hide her symptoms by trying to be helpful.

It’s a good idea to start the conversation of bringing in care takers if your family can afford to do so. There are many area agencies that provide reduced cost services for low income seniors, veterans, or surviving spouses of veterans. Your local senior center, non profit agencies, and county offices such as Extension offices, can usually direct you to more information for obtaining low cost providers. There are also usually a plethora of private pay aides that can provide companion care, errands, and light housekeeping to your loved one.

Having an early conversation about care prevents some of the anger that can occur after their memory has faded significantly. Memory loss can be very frustrating. If you spring a care taker on your loved one after significant memory loss they are likely to be angry and quarrelsome with the stranger. Having the conversation in advance may still result in some anger or resentment, but it far more likely to form a memory in advance that will help reduce confusion.

There are also several ways to introduce companion care in advance of more in depth assistance. The companion can be introduced as a helper for things like trying to figure out the remote, or grocery shopping. They can also help with hobbies such as baking, quilting, reading and trips to the senior center. Companion care agencies are great resources for a strategic plan of care for your loved one. They meet with them at their home to asses needs. They also have an unbiased view of how memory loss or other ailments are progressing in your loved one.
Do you have any other tips or strategies for managing care for your elderly loved one?