Interacting - Tip Sheet

TIPS FOR INTRACTING WITH PERSONS WITH MILD MEMORY LOSS

Memory Differences

It is important to understand the different types of memory storage because a person with severe or progressive memory loss may have one kind of memory loss and not another. For example, people with brain damage on their left side (the left hemisphere holds verbal or word memory) may not be able to remember a shopping list. Or they may not be able to remember the words in a conversation. However, they may be able to use their visual skills (the right hemisphere stores nonverbal memories). For example, they may remember the faces of people they meet at the store.

A person with a great deal of damage on the right side of the brain may not be able to remember and follow directions to a friend's house but may be able to remember conversations.

General Tips

TIPS FOR PEOPLE WITH SEVERE OR PROGRESSIVE MEMORY DECLINE

Even though there are no medical treat-ments for curing severe memory impair-ments, changing the way things are done at home can help. People with memory problems do best when they have a lot of hints or reminders to help them figure things out. Saying you are "making sandwiches for lunch time" tells them what meal is coming next. Also, telling time in terms of purpose-such as lunch time, bath time, or bedtime-may have more meaning than using numbers, such as one o'clock.

People with severe memory disorders do not function as well when there are many changes and surprises. Often they get upset when there are changes in their usual routine. Caregivers should under-stand this and see that the routine changes as little as possible from day to day.

Material taken from: Helping People with Progressive Memory Disorders: A Guide For You And Your Family, 2nd ed." (University of Florida Health Science Center). Used with permission from the authors: K. M. Heilman, MD, L. Doty, PhD, J. T. Stewart, MD, D Bowers, PhD, & L. Gonzalez-Rothi, PhD. (1999).

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College of Public Health and Health Professions, University of Florida