Senior Home Care Blog - Barrington IL

3 Ways to Help Seniors Improve Their Memory

By Christine Browning, R.N.

3 Ways to Help Seniors Improve Their Memory

Sights, Scents, and Sounds Help Bring Memories to Mind

Everybody complains of memory loss as we grow older. Whether we’re looking for car keys, important paperwork or trying to remember someone’s name, it seems we have had to accept that memory loss just comes with the aging process. When older adults suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s, memory loss can be much more pronounced and difficult to deal with. There are some ways to help make it better, though. Let’s look at some tips!

If you are a caregiver for a dementia patient, you already know that they depend on you to be their memory. By spending time talking about stories from the past, various family members, and momentous occasions, you will be able to help spark those memories in your loved one. Here are a few ways to help trigger those good memories.

1. Smells Can Trigger Memories
Of all our senses, smell is the most pronounced and also the most commonly connected to memories. It’s amazing how even distant memories can become crystal clear when you smell something that reminds you of that time. For those with dementia, smells can be a powerful stimulant.

Studies have shown that the sense of smell can trigger our memories and take us way farther back in time than visual or verbal cues. Certain smells brought many participants in the study an instant memory all the way back from childhood. Something as simple as baking cookies or a favorite meal can be a wonderful way to not only trigger happy memories but also open up the door to have meaningful conversations.

2. The Power of Music
Memories have two types—implicit and explicit. When you think about past memories and attempt to deliberately go back to a certain time or place, this is called explicit memory. Implicit memories are unintentional and tend to be more reactive. However, it’s the explicit memory that is so often damaged by dementia and Alzheimer’s Implicit memories can be strongly connected to music due to the emotional nature of those memories.

Music can bring us back to favorite memories, so it’s a wonderful tool to help seniors recall memories that they may not think of often. It can evoke strong emotions and become very personal, which is very comforting to most seniors.

3. Aiding Memory with Puzzles
Memories can develop atrophy just like other muscles that require exercise. We have all heard “use it or lose it.” The more we can stimulate the brain, the more “exercise” the memory part of the brain gets. Using games, crossword puzzles, etc., can be very helpful with keeping the mind active and able to problem solve and process information. If your loved one can still write and read with no difficulty, consider acquiring some logic-type games with either letters or numbers. These puzzles don’t require math skills; just the ability to think. This is easy to do with puzzle books online games or even the crossword puzzles in the newspaper.

Here are a few extra tips to stimulate memory:
 Keep a folder full of pictures of the life and friends of your loved one so they can see them often and keep the memories strong through visual stimulation. 
 Make a scrapbook together. You can gather items that represent different eras of your loved one’s life such as concert tickets, passport stamps, driver license, love letters, etc. 
 Record your loved one on video talking about the things that are dear to them. They can tell you stories about family members, favorite memories and life events. This is a wonderful legacy of love!!

For more information on how you can stimulate the memory of your older adult, contact us today!

Home Helpers of Barrington is a locally-owned, trusted home health care agency and offers quality, compassionate senior in-home care services including 24 hour care, live-in care, home care assistance, personal care, companion care, respite care, Alzheimer's & dementia care, Parkinson's care as well as homemaker services in Barrington, Lake Bluff, Libertyville, Lincolnshire, Buffalo Grove, Vernon Hills, Mundelein, Wauconda, Fox River Grove, Hawthorn Woods, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Wheeling, Inverness, Carpentersville, Kildeer, Cary, Lake Zurich, Deer Park, Prospect Heights, Grayslake, and Long Grove, Illinois.

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