Do your parents seem to forget things you’d talked with them about only a day, or even an hour, ago? Do you have trouble focusing on the task at hand? I’m sure you’ve experienced that feeling when you walk into a room and can’t for the life of you remember why you were there? Been there, done that. Right?
Becoming forgetful is a fact of life and of aging. As a caregiver you want to do what you can to help your parents or aging loved ones improve their memory and their focus. Here are four steps you can take, for your aging parents, and in your own daily life to make forgetfulness not as much a part of aging:
- Pay attention when someone is talking to you. If someone is talking and you’re involved in other activities you will lose the message they’re trying to convey. Stop what you’re doing and give them your full attention. If they’re talking and you missed something, ask for clarification.
- Stating the conversation back for clarification is also another way to enhance your memory. “So, Mom what you said was you wanted me to pick up tomatoes from the farmer’s market on Thursday, right?” This lets the person know you were listening and also helps reinforce the conversation.
- Are you distracted during conversations because it is too loud or an otherwise distracting environment? If you’re having an in talk, move into a quiet room or a quiet corner of the house. If you’re in a restaurant, move closer so that you can hear what’s being said.
- Pick up a crossword puzzle or another type of word or number game to keep your mind agile.
- Learn something new. Whether you take a class online or in person, life long learning is ideal for individuals who want to “age well.”
In addition to paying attention to what’s being said, you can also enhance your brain function by being physically active. Not only does physical activity enhance your overall life and health it can also help stave off some of the effects of aging. You don’t have to run a marathon, but if you’re typically sedentary, get up and take a walk around the house, march in place when you’re on the phone, take the dog for a longer walk than you usually do (both you and your dog will benefit from this!).
Simply staying connected to others will help with mental acuity and even physical health. Get up. Get out. Get involved in social situations. Volunteer or even pick up a part time job in a field that’s always interested you. A busy mind is a healthy mind!