Have you noticed any behavioral changes in your spouse or a parent but haven’t known how best to bring up the subject? Chances are, your loved one may also be worried about what is happening but is struggling with how to approach this or what to say.
You’re not alone if you discover your family facing this scenario. The good news is that there is guidance to help you find your way.
One of the biggest reasons we don’t bring up concerns about memory loss, in ourselves or others, is that we’re afraid of what it might mean. Most of us fear a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. By acknowledging what is happening, we become fearful that we’ll make it real.
However, it’s important to know that there are many causes for memory problems, including medication, a chronic health condition, vitamin deficiency or depression. Identifying and resolving the issue should occur as soon as possible. And if it is a form of dementia, the earlier it’s diagnosed the quicker steps can be taken to address the condition.
These 4 steps may help you broach the subject and have a more constructive conversation with your loved one.
This isn’t a conversation to have on the spur of the moment. Preparing what to say can minimize a response of defensiveness, denial or a refusal to discuss. Thinking through how you would answer these questions can make the discussion go smoother:
I’ve noticed (describe changes) in you and I’m concerned. Have you noticed this? Are you worried?
How have you been feeling lately? You haven’t seemed like yourself.
I noticed you (give example) and it worried me. Has anything else like that happened?
Start by telling your loved one that you care and have become concerned because of certain behaviors you’ve seen. But make sure it doesn’t come across as a judgment or something they should feel wrong about. Even if others have also noticed changes, it’s important not to make it appear that you all are ganging up on your loved one.
Encourage them to share with you anything they’ve noticed or are concerned about. Create a plan of action with them and suggest scheduling an appointment with a doctor as the next step.
Consider these words of encouragement recommended by the Alzheimer’s Association:
There are lots of things that could be causing this and dementia may or may not be one of them. Let’s see if the doctor can help us figure out what’s going on.
The sooner we know what’s causing these problems, the sooner we can address it.
I think it would give us both peace of mind if we talked with a doctor.
If your loved one quits talking, doesn’t want to listen or refuses to go to a doctor, you may have to let it go for now and try again later. Consider if it would help to bring someone along with you the next time or if there is another person who might get a more positive response. If you have no luck, reach out for help. Ask your doctor’s office or search online for recommendations for other options to try.
The Alzheimer’s Association also includes the following suggestions and recommendations to help you talk with a loved one about memory changes.
If needed, have multiple conversations. Make adjustments for what worked and what didn’t.
We understand the fear of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis and how difficult it can be to have some of these tough conversations with loved ones. One of the services we provide to our residents and families is our educational resources and the availability of our highly and specially trained staff to help navigate through the different stages and needs of a cognitive illness.
Our community and whole-person approach to wellness also allows and encourages our residents to feel empowered and engaged. A few of the services and amenities we offer include:
Call (202) 905-0018 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.