What to Do When Your Parents Start Experiencing Memory Loss

What To Do When Parents are Suffering From Memory Loss

Have one, or both of your parents been suffering from memory loss lately? Losing your memory can be a scary thing. Here’s how you can help.

Seeing a parent experience memory loss is frightening, but it doesn’t always mean the worst. Most times, the causes are treatable.

More than one in eight baby boomers report memory impairment. Nearly 13 percent of seniors over age 60 complain of one or more episodes of memory problems or confusion in the past year.

Keep reading to find out what can affect your parent’s memory and how to deal with it.

Hide and Seek

A lot of times, the person experiencing memory loss will compensate for it. They will change the way they interact with others or make excuses. They may become more withdrawn, introverted, and moody.

There are some signs that you may pick up on or notice through daily life. It’s normal for someone to make a bad decision occasionally or to forget where they put something once in a while.

It’s not normal for memory issues to interrupt your activities of daily living. A person who is getting confused or forgetting normal routine activities should take notice of other signs of concern.

Having difficulties with problem-solving or budgeting requires a medical consultation. There may be a new struggle with awareness of dates, times and locations.

Visual and spatial relationships, as well as speech and thought processes, can all be warning signs of dementia.

Causes of Memory Loss

When someone starts forgetting things, we immediately think of dementia and Alzheimer’s. There are many other explanations for forgetting things.

While it’s important to get to the root of what’s causing the symptoms, there’s no reason to panic about it.

We’ve all walked into a room and forgotten why we did. Or walked out of a grocery store with everything except for what we went in for. We often laugh it off or wonder if we’re starting to lose it.

Medical advice is vital to proper diagnosis and treatment of memory loss. Doctors will conduct some tests and make an expert diagnosis. It’s great to do research on your own, but it cannot replace medical opinion.

Plus, a health professional can determine what caused memory loss in the first place. Here are some possible reasons:


It might not seem like a source of cognitive impairment, but it’s a telling sign in elderly patients.

Urinary tract infections are often the root of cognitive issues, particularly in the elderly and those with weak immune systems.

A urine sample or blood test can determine the exact cause.

There are other infectious dementias to be considered or ruled out. These include:

  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
  • AIDS-related dementia
  • Neurosyphilis

Practically, any infectious disease that attacks the central nervous system can lead to dementia.

B12 Deficiency

B12 deficiency can cause memory loss and confusion too.

Vitamin B12 plays an important role in day-to-day body functions. Red blood cells, nerves, and DNA – they all rely on this nutrient to function optimally.

Up to 20 percent of individuals have at least borderline low B12. Three percent have dangerously low levels of this vitamin.

A few blood tests can determine if you’re deficient in this nutrient. Some signs of B12 deficiency include:

  • tingling or numbness in extremities
  • balance or walking difficulties
  • anemia and/or jaundice
  • cognitive impairment, including problems with thinking, reasoning, and memory
  • fatigue and weakness
  • an inflamed or swollen tongue

Certain people are at greater risk of B12 deficiency. This includes those over 50, especially if they’re dealing with diabetes and taking the medication Metformin.

Vegetarians and vegans need to pay particular attention to their vitamin intake. They should make sure they’re getting enough from other sources.


Several medications cause side effects that mimic the symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Narcotics, sedatives, corticosteroids, and others can have this effect.

Cardiovascular drugs, antidepressants, antihistamines and anti-anxiety drugs also affect cognitive ability and memory.


Stress can have an incredible impact on memory and cognitive abilities.

When we’re worried about something, we aren’t thinking about the moment we’re in. It’s easy to walk into a room and forget why we went there when we’re busy thinking about next week.

Medical Conditions Causing Delirium

There are some medical conditions that cause delirium, which can appear similar to dementia. There are a couple major differences between delirium and dementia.

The first is that delirium will cause changes in levels of consciousness. The individual may slip in and out of awareness and spend much of their time sleeping.

Dementia doesn’t affect consciousness.

The second is that delirium has a quick onset pattern, while dementia progresses gradually.

Delirium can develop in a matter of hours or days. Dementia will take months or years to develop and manifest fully.

Plus, delirium can be a sign of a life-threatening illness. It’s also common in elderly patients after surgery.

Parkinson’s and Anti-Parkinson Medications

Parkinson’s disease and the medications to treat it can cause memory loss. This neurological condition is due to a deficiency in dopamine.

Tremors, shaking, and difficulty with motor skills are all progressive symptoms of the disease.

Cognitive difficulties and dementia develop in a majority of Parkinson’s disease sufferers.

Many families now search for non-chemical treatment of Parkinson’s symptoms. CBD and THC are effective helping in reduce or resolve many symptoms of Parkinson’s.

Huntington’s Disease

Huntington’s is an inherited disease caused by a gene mutation of chromosome 4.

Mental deficiency and memory loss may be among the first signs. It is also characterized by muscle spasm and involuntary movements.

This particular cause of dementia often occurs earlier in life than others. Onset often starts between the ages of 20 and 40.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative disorder making up over 50 percent of dementia cases. More than 5.5 million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s disease in 2017.

15 million caregivers give 18 billion hours of care due to Alzheimer’s and dementia.

It’s a daunting task to care for someone with dementia. There are some things you can do that have been effective for many struggling to cope with this new reality.

Memories and Music

It can be difficult to watch a loved one deal with memory loss and cognitive impairment. In the beginning, it’s a mild inconvenience. As the condition worsens it can be heartbreaking.

The tendency is to correct the individual or want them to e reacquainted with the present. This can be frustrating, scary, and counter-productive.

In early stages of memory loss gentle reminders, post-it notes, and guided support can help. Small supports can get your loved one through their daily tasks.

Music therapy is extremely useful in dementia care. It can have a calming effect and increase the quality of relationship interactions. Communication may improve and positive emotions resurface.

Safety and Independence

It’s hard to watch a parent’s independence slowing fade as safety concerns grow. At first, you can take steps to ensure his safety, but also allow some independence to remain.

Post-it notes, messages, and safety checks work in the initial stages of memory loss. Taking the fuses out of the stove or unplugging appliances may be necessary at some point to keep them safe.

Set outfits for each day of the week and pre-cook their meals to make tasks easier for yourself and your parent.

Considering fall, fire, and other safety issues before you have to deal with them will help.

Sleep Issues and Sundowning

Dementia can cause different individual sleep issues.

Some will sleep more than usual, and may eventually spend most of their day sleeping. Others may become increasingly agitated and restless as the day progresses. This is a symptom of dementia called ‘sundowning’.

There are some things you can do to lessen the effects of sundowning.

Ensure good lighting. As the day dims, make the room brighter to lessen agitation

Have a routine and stick to it. This is extremely important for dementia sufferers.

Also, make sure your loved ones stay physically active.

Try to reduce their stress and calm them. Find shows, music, or hobbies they enjoy.

An evening walk, a daily activity, or a music CD with their favorite songs can help them relax. Fidget blankets or aprons can give their nervous hands something to do.

CBD and THC are good alternatives if you prefer not to use chemical pharmaceuticals.

Edibles and oils may be the easiest and most effective way to calm and relax your loved one. They can help treat many of the symptoms someone with dementia suffers from.

Remember the Love

Enduring the pain of memory loss in a loved one is hard. You need to focus on all the things you know while they are forgetting the things they do.

Remember your love for them and remember the things that they love.

They may not recognize you, and it may get difficult to see the person you knew in the shell that remains. Remember they are still the same person.

They may not remember details, names, or where they are, but they know love. When you have a rough day, just try to remember the love you have for them.

For more information, check out our articles and research on dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
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