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How do I encourage my aging parent with short-term memory loss?

Dr. Oluwatoyin Thomas, MD
Geriatric Medicine Specialist

Adult children who recognize short-term memory loss in their parents must remember that it is up to them to be responsible for how they interact with their parents. You may have to change your behavior and reactions. If your parent is repeatedly asking the same questions, simply provide the answer without correcting him or her. Make sure you are not using a condescending tone. Despite your parent’s cognitive impairment or decline, you still need to treat him or her with respect and dignity.

Using simple directions, pictorial clues and written reminders can help your parent with memory tasks. When you give directions, make them as simple and clear as possible. Speak in short sentences and repeat directions, when requested. One-step directions are best.

Your parent’s cognitive changes will affect your child-parent interactions. Many aging parents struggle with having to depend on their children, especially when they have always been independent and in control. Do your best to allow your parent to maintain his or her self-respect and dignity.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.