As your parents grow old, it’s not unusual for them to have trouble remembering things, like family birthdays, the date, or where they put the car keys. But if Mom or Dad’s memory loss is happening more frequently and causing them to get frustrated, it could be a common condition known as mild cognitive impairment (MCI). What follows are some ways to help an aging parent with MCI overcome their pent-up frustration so they can continue living life to the fullest.
What Is Mild Cognitive Impairment?
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a condition that falls somewhere between normal age-related memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Not everyone with MCI develops dementia. Like dementia, MCI is not an illness but a cluster of symptoms that describe changes in how you think or process information.
What Are the Symptoms of MCI?
An elderly parent or other loved one with MCI would typically have these symptoms:
- Forgetting appointments or scheduled events
- More frequent difficulty remembering simple things
- Frequently losing their train of thought
- Difficulty following a conversation or basic instructions
- Feeling overwhelmed when you attempt to involve them in plans or decisions
- Losing their way even in familiar locations
With MCI, these cognitive changes do not occur suddenly but do worsen over time. As a result, many seniors with MCI also experience secondary emotional symptoms that may include anxiety, depression, irritability, apathy, or frustration.
MCI Management Tips for Family Caregivers
When suddenly thrust into the role of a family caregiver, these are some proven ways to help your parent cope with the frustration of living with MCI without jeopardizing your relationship:
There will be days when your parent feels frustrated, anxious, or sad at losing some abilities. Above all else, be patient with Mom or Dad and respectfully ask them to be patient with you. Getting everyone to practice patience can sometimes make it easier for your loved one to remember or complete a task.
Do your research
Learn all you can about MCI and share that knowledge with mutual friends and other family members. Once that’s done, you all will have a better understanding of changes affecting your parent and what to expect if the MCI progresses to dementia.
Help them decompress
Help your loved one find constructive ways to release anger and frustration, such as regular exercise, meeting with a licensed counselor, or joining a support group for those with memory loss. Note: Be sure that Mom or Dad has been cleared by their doctor before starting an exercise program.
Use visible reminders
So that they will remember important dates and appointments, encourage your parent to leave themself notes, post a large calendar for tracking appointments, or use an automated pill dispenser for medications. Also, suggest that Mom or Dad set their mobile device alarm to remind them of upcoming events – like their grandchild’s school program.
Serve them “brain-healthy” foods
Many nutrient-rich foods have been shown to prevent or slow the progression of memory loss, while others may accelerate cognitive function decline. Serve your parent brain-healthy foods like berries, nuts, fish, green leafy vegetables, and whole grains. Limit their daily intake of butter, cheese, fast foods, and alcohol. Taking memory supplements – including Omega-3 fatty acids and Panax ginseng – may also help boost brain function, but check with their doctor first.
Stimulate their mind
Doing puzzles, playing board games, and going through old photo albums are all fun “brain-teasing” exercises for someone with MCI. Another way to stimulate your parent’s minds is by involving them in family activities like setting the dinner table or putting up Holiday decorations.
Because There’s No Place Like Home
Helping an elderly parent with MCI live life to the fullest while aging in place isn’t easy when you’re busy or live far away. At Elder Home Care, we understand that having a caregiver in your home is a decision that requires trust. As your trusted senior care partner, our experienced caregivers are trained to provide professional, reliable care in the same respectful and friendly manner that they would treat their own family members.
Our commitment is to help your aging loved ones maintain their independence while treating them with respect, compassion, and empathy. To schedule a free, no-obligation assessment today for a senior in Nassau, Suffolk, Queens, Manhattan, Westchester, and the greater Philadelphia area, visit Elder Home Care at: www.ehcus.com.