As with anyone of my advanced age, I experience annoying mental pauses. Forgetting a familiar face, misplacing my smartphone, confusion, frustration, anger. Most incidents are not preludes to deteriorating sanity, such as dementia or senility.
They’re merely the natural slowing down mentally and physically. It can happen at any time at any age between 40 and 90. If you have a loved one with the symptoms, consider ways to manage senior moments:
1. Resist the inclination to meet anger with anger, and show understanding and patience. Ask the senior to explain the confusing moment, and guide the situation to a favorable conclusion. For example: Forgot where you put your purse? Let me help you. Do you leave it in the same place every night before bedtime? Let’s start there.
2. Suggest a period of rest. It’s only natural that old age tends to slow the mind down, as it does to the body, and can lead to exhaustion. For example: Maybe you’re just doing too much right now, and can’t think straight. It happens to all of us. Let’s sit for awhile, take a few breaths and tackle this problem with your prescriptions again after a little rest.
3. Offer something to eat and drink. Often senior moments happen because they forget to keep up with necessary food and medications. Weakness and confusion often affect thinking. For example: I’ve looked in your fridge, and all the food we brought you three days ago is still there.
I’ve checked your meds in the bathroom cabinet, and you’ve neglected to take some. Let’s go to your favorite restaurant and get some nourishing food. Take your meds along, and we’ll make sure you’re back on schedule.
4. Family members in constant touch with elderly relatives should check frequently by phone to avoid missed appointments and other important tasks. For example: Let’s go over your schedule and make sure we’re not missing anything.
5. Do more intense monitoring if senior moments are happening more frequently. If they involve danger, such as driving or cooking, take immediate steps to get medical help. For example: You fell asleep with your stove burners on and almost started a house fine. Or, you’ve had two fender-bender accidents lately. Don’t you think it’s time for you to give up driving?
Managing senior moments can be most successful if both the elderly person andfamily members share in solving the problems. By keeping in close contact , those unwelcome happenings can be worked out safely and peacefully together.