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Difficulty Remembering in the Later Stages of Alzheimer's

Memory loss creates a host of problems in late-stage Alzheimer's patients. Get suggestions for coping with that at HealthyPlace.

Memory loss creates a host of problems in late-stage Alzheimer's patients. Some suggestions for coping with that.

People with memory problems find it very hard to take in new information and remember it.

  • Keep information simple and repeat it frequently.
  • Break down new activities into small stages.

Avoiding extra stress and Alzheimer's

If the person is tired, unwell, anxious or depressed, they will find it even more difficult to remember. Memory problems will also become more apparent if they try to do more than one thing at a time or if they are distracted by noise or bustle.

  • If you think that the person may be ill or depressed consult the GP.
  • Make sure the person has plenty of support. Try to reduce stress as much as possible.
  • Help them concentrate on one thing at a time.
  • Try to make sure that there are no distractions.
  • Provide verbal cues rather than ask questions. For example: 'Here is David, your nephew, come to see you', rather than 'Do you remember who this is?'

Maintaining independence and Alzheimer's

  • The person should be helped to remain independent for as long as possible. However, you will need to take certain precautions if the person is at risk because of their forgetfulness.
  • Help the person to continue to do things for themselves, using frequent reminders and doing things 'with' them instead 'for' them.

Regular routine and Alzheimer's

Although variety and stimulation are important, too many changes will be confusing.

  • A regular routine will help the person feel more secure and make it easier for them to remember what usually happens during the day.
  • Leave things in the same place so that the person can find them easily.

Memory aids and Alzheimer's

In the early stages, memory aids such as lists, diaries and clear, written instructions can be helpful in jogging memory if the person is willing and able to make use of them. However, you need to be aware that, as the Alzheimer's progresses, they may not be able to understand what the aids are for.


 


Loss of sense of time and Alzheimer's

You may find that the person begins to lose their sense of time quite early on in Alzheimer's. The person may find it hard to judge how much time has passed because they can't remember what they have done or what they are going to do that day.

Try to keep to a regular routine. Tactful reminders of the day and time and what you are going to do next may help.

Fact and fiction and Alzheimer's

As Alzheimer's progresses, facts may become confused with imagination. It is usually best not to argue with the person. Try to put yourself in their situation and understand what they might be trying to say or what they are feeling and relate to that.

If you do have to contradict the person or correct them do so in a way that saves face and shows that you are not being critical.

Living in the past and Alzheimer's

As the person's short-term memory gradually deteriorates they may find memories, feelings and routines associated with the past more real than those in the present.

Sometimes they may even seem to be living in the past and insist, for example, that they have to wait for their mother to take them to school. Try not to contradict. Use this as an opportunity to relate to what they may be remembering or feeling. You might encourage them to talk about the past or comfort them if they seem sad.

Lack of recognition and Alzheimer's

People with Alzheimer's may eventually lose the ability to recognize people, places or things because their brain can no longer remember or put information together. They may even fail to recognize their own reflection in a mirror and think it someone else, or they may worry that a relative or close friend is an intruder in their home.

Tactful explanations and reminders can often help to reassure the person and enable them to continue to make some sense of their environment and the people around them.

It is very distressing if the person no longer recognizes you or others close to them. Talk to someone you trust about how you feel.

Sources:

  • Alzheimer's Society - UK
  • Alzheimer Society of Canada. Practical help

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, December 29). Difficulty Remembering in the Later Stages of Alzheimer's, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, April 4 from https://www.healthyplace.com/alzheimers/maintaining-quality-of-life/difficulty-remembering-later-stages-alzheimers

Last Updated: May 8, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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