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How to Help an Elderly Parent with Memory Loss

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A senior man with glasses leaning on a windowsill and resting his right hand on the top of a cane while looking out the window with a serious expression

As our parents grow older, it’s a natural process for them to experience some cognitive decline, but there could also be underlying reasons for the memory loss. Memory loss can be a challenge for you and your parent. 

A few things you can do to help an elderly parent with memory loss include:

  • Keep things organized and structured
  • Use reminders and visual cues
  • Keep essential information readily available
  • Encourage social interactions
  • Know when to seek professional care

If you’re helping a senior parent with memory loss, it can sometimes be difficult to know where to begin. And it can be even harder to know when to seek professional help. Fortunately, there are often several options to help at different stages of life.

A couple of potential options are memory care—which is full-time care from caregivers trained to deal with cognitive decline like dementia or its related conditions—and respite care, which may be an option when you’re still the primary caregiver at home but need a temporary break. This short-term care can give you peace of mind, knowing that your parent is cared for while you take time to rest.

Possible Reasons for Memory Loss

When your parent is experiencing memory loss, there are a variety of possible reasons why. The following could be some potential reasons.

Age-Related Memory Decline

Seniors often experience age-related memory decline, which is a normal part of aging. As people age, the brain undergoes several changes that can affect its ability to retrieve and process information. This type of memory loss is usually mild and does not significantly affect a senior’s daily life. However, it can still be frustrating to have difficulty recalling recent events.

It’s important to remember that while some mild memory loss or forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging, severe memory loss related to dementia is not a normal part of aging.


Some medications can cause memory loss in seniors. These medications include statins used to lower cholesterol, antihistamines, antidepressants, and sleeping pills. If you notice that your loved one’s memory has worsened after they started taking a new medication, consult their doctor. The doctor may recommend changing the medication or adjusting the dosage.

Chronic Medical Conditions

Seniors with chronic medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia may experience memory loss. These conditions affect the brain and can cause difficulty remembering events, people, and places.

The memory loss associated with these conditions is usually severe and can significantly impact a senior’s quality of life. Because these conditions are also progressive, the affected senior eventually needs full-time care, whether from a loved one or in a community with trained staff.

Poor Diet & Lack of Exercise

A poor diet lacking important nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12 can contribute to memory loss in seniors. Exercise is also crucial in maintaining brain health, and sedentary lifestyles can affect cognitive function. Encouraging seniors to eat a well-balanced diet and engage in regular exercise can help maintain their brain health along with their physical health.

Stress & Anxiety

Stress and anxiety can also affect a senior’s memory. When seniors are anxious or stressed, they may struggle to recall information and may become forgetful. Encouraging seniors to practice stress-relieving techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing can help reduce stress and improve their memory.

How to Help a Senior Parent with Memory Loss

Knowing what could be contributing to the memory loss is a good place to begin. When you know the cause of your loved one’s memory loss, you can also begin using some strategies to help make life easier for them.

Organization & Structure

One helpful strategy for managing memory loss is creating a well-organized environment for your parent. You can start by organizing their belongings in a way that makes sense for them and having a consistent place for their things.

You can also establish routines and create a structure for your parent’s day. Having a daily schedule can help them remember the important things that need to be done, allowing them to stay on track.

Reminders & Visual Cues

Using visual cues and reminders are excellent steps to assist seniors with memory loss, as they can help stimulate the senses and assist with memory retention. You can create a visual calendar with their important dates, place labels on household objects, or create reminders on their phone, computer, or tablet using alarms or apps.

Keep Essential Information Available

We never know when we might need essential information like phone numbers, addresses, or medical information. Therefore, it’s important you keep these crucial details recorded in a place that is easily accessible. Ensure that your parent has a list of emergency contacts ready at all times, and keep their medications in an organized fashion that reminds them to take them as required.

Encourage Social Interactions

As a senior, it’s important to stay involved in social activities, as this can help with cognitive stimulation and memory. You can encourage your parent to keep up with their hobbies and interests, sign them up for community events, or have them join a senior group in their area.

Social interactions are one area where respite care can shine. When you need a break, not only do you know your loved one gets the care they need, but it can also provide some much-needed social interaction.

Seek Professional Care

If memory loss affects your parent’s quality of life, it may be time to seek professional assistance. Speak with your loved one’s doctor to see what resources are available, like counseling, medication, or a memory care community.

A senior woman sits at a table, holding cards next to a cup of tea and smiling. In the background, fellow seniors engage in conversation while a nurse helps out.

Plan for the Future & Needed Care

Watching our parents grapple with memory loss can be difficult, but there are steps you can take and resources available to help them manage their symptoms. Remember that patience, consistency, and understanding toward your loved ones are essential as they adjust to their situation.Contact our team at Barton House Memory Care if you’re looking ahead to the future. We offer several levels of care to accommodate your loved one. We’re happy to book a community tour so you and your parents can see what life is like at Barton House.

Written by Melanie Wallace

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