Helping a Loved One With Memory Loss


Do you have a loved one struggling with forgetfulness or memory loss? Are you worried their symptoms are a sign of a more serious cognitive condition? If so, you know how difficult memory loss can be — for you and your loved one. 

At Prima Medicine in Fairfax and South Riding, Virginia, our compassionate providers offer expert care for patients struggling with memory loss. We also understand the challenge memory loss presents for their loved ones. 

In this blog, we explain why memory loss can occur and how you can help a loved one who’s dealing with it.

Understanding forgetfulness and memory loss

“Memory” describes the part of your brain that stores and retrieves information. Not all types of memory are the same. Short-term memory, or working memory, briefly holds information. Long-term memory stores this information for future use. 

Not all forgetfulness or slips of your memory indicate conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. It’s normal to have times when you forget someone’s name or where you left your keys.

Many factors can contribute to forgetfulness and memory loss. Here are some of the most common things that affect memory:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Some medications (e.g., anti-anxiety medications; antidepressants) 
  • Head injury or trauma
  • Hormone shifts or imbalances
  • Alcoholism
  • Brain tumors or cysts
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Dementia
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Some of these issues can be temporary. For example, someone who has a vitamin B12 deficiency may be able to get better by adjusting their diet or taking a supplement. However, some conditions can indicate a permanent cognitive decline, such as dementia. Fortunately, different treatment options can help.

Treating memory loss

Treating memory loss depends on the type of loss and the root cause. It’s best to talk to a specialist — such as the ones at Prima Medicine — about it for an expert diagnosis. This can help ensure that the right treatment is provided. 

For example, memory loss related to mental health conditions can improve with better management. Simple lifestyle changes can slow and sometimes prevent dementia. Medications can also help. 

At Prima Medicine, our team provides compassionate and effective care, creating personalized treatment plans based on our patients’ needs and goals.

Tips for helping a loved one with memory loss

It’s natural to want to help a loved one who’s struggling with memory loss. One of the best things you can do is offer support while helping your loved one feel independent and confident. Here are some of our top tips:

Learn about their condition 

Research the kind of memory loss they have and talk to your loved one’s provider about what to expect. This can help you better understand their memory loss so you can give the right kind of support.

Be calm and patient

Avoid showing anger, frustration, or rushing your loved one, as stress can make it harder to remember. And be sure to practice self-care and take time away to recharge, so you don’t get burned out. 

Encourage routines

Having a routine can help cut down on frustrations and mistakes, both for you and your loved one. Work together to create simple routines they can follow every day. 

Give verbal cues and context

Instead of asking if they remember, give cues and context to help jog their memory. This can help avoid embarrassment or feeling like they’re put on the spot. For example, try saying, “This is Michael, your nephew, who’s here for dinner,” instead of, “Do you know who this is?”

Write things down

Keep important information and instructions for tasks on sticky notes or a notebook your loved one can use to trigger their memory. You can also use a wall calendar. 

Create a memory book

If your loved one struggles with names, create a book with photos and key information about how your loved one knows the person. You can also use this technique if they struggle with places and objects. 

Consider assistive technology 

Apps and devices can help your loved one remember when it’s time for medication or appointments. Some assistive devices can also help locate your loved one if they get lost.

To learn more about how you can help a loved one with memory loss, book an appointment online or over the phone with Prima Medicine today.

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