Aging vs memory loss

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We can’t avoid age. However, we can avoid some aging. Continue to do things. Be active. Life is fantastic in the way it adjusts to demands; if you use your muscles and mind, they stay there much longer.
— Charles H. Townes

We can all think of a moment when we have been forgetful, especially when looking for our phone or keys! In our younger years, we don’t think too much about this, but as we grow older we need to pay more attention to forgetfulness and what it could mean.  Forgetfulness has very little impact on our daily performance. Dementia, on the other hand, is the loss of cognitive functioning that impacts normal daily tasks such as thinking, reasoning, or remembering. This is caused by the cells in the brain that were once healthy, losing connection with other brain cells and dying. Although everyone who ages experiences some lose of neurons, those with dementia experience this loss on a far greater scale.

 

At Le Domaine Care, we take special action towards ensuring that our staff are well trained in the area of memory loss and cognitive problems that some of our residents may experience. Ruth Sanderson comes in on a regular basis to chat to our residents, allowing them to feel at ease, knowing that they are in the best care with our highly trained staff. If you or a family member are experiencing age related memory loss, here are some tips that can help ensure that the symptoms are alleviated:

 

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1. Keep moving

Exercise increases the supply of blood to the brain which encourages the development of new neurons and forges the connection between them. At Le Domaine Care, we ensure that our residents are kept fit and healthy with their regular fun exercise classes with Caroline from Caz Fit. If you’re not up to physical exercise, sitting around the fire with a sudoku or puzzle will help keep your brain sharp and maintain its ability to pay attention.

 

 
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2.  A balanced diet

Have a healthy balanced diet that is rich in nutrients and the perfect balance of carbs, fats and protein. Our catering team, Bonne Chance, are thoughtful with their meal planning, and make sure that our residents not only get a home-cooked meal, but are also fed the right nutrients to boost their mental health and energy.

 

 
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3. Don't shy away from vitamins

A recent study showed that elderly people who have used vitamin supplements tend to have less brain shrinkage than those who didn’t. Even though some may do more than just take vitamins to protect their brain, getting your minimum daily intake of vitamins is still good insurance.

 
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A caregiver's guide to dementia:  

 

1. Set a positive mood for interaction by limiting distractions and noise.

Make sure you have their attention by addressing them by name, and identify yourself by name and relation. Once you have their attention, ask one question at a time using simple words and sentences, and speak in a reassuring tone. Remember your attitude and body language communicate your feelings.

 

2. Chat about the old days - remembering the past is often a soothing and affirming activity.

Maintain your sense of humor. People with dementia tend to retain their social skills and are usually delighted to laugh with you.

 

3. When the going gets tough - distract and retry.

If your loved one becomes upset or aggravated by the subject of conversation, change the topic or the environment. For example, if you want to get them to go for a walk, rather say let’s go get something to eat. Then they are still walking but they are focused on getting food.

 

4. Behaviour has a purpose.

we can easily express our emotions but people with dementia cannot tell us what they want or need.  If they’re doing things over and over and wondering why, it’s often that they are looking to be productive or busy.

 

5. Sit down and eat meals with them.

make mealtime a special time by putting flowers on the table or playing soft music in the background. Often they mimic your actions, making mealtime more pleasant and comforting.

 

Caring for someone with dementia poses many challenges for both families and caregivers. We admire our hard working staff and any loved ones who help their family members through their condition. Always remember, mood swings are very common with those who have dementia and their behavior is often triggered by something, not necessarily anything you have done wrong. Stay strong, and be positive. To find out more about how we can help your loved one through dementia contact us at info@ledomainecare.co.za.

 
Wendy Bezuidenhout