BY PURNIMA SREENIVASAN
Memory loss is not a normal part of aging. We as humans must age, and then leave this earth. In this journey, which we face as beings of highest intelligence, our coping mechanisms are largely different and changeable, which makes us become dependent on them, giving us a reason to either thrive or decline.
How are we coping with our health needs ? How do we know we are doing well ? How are we improvising our very own needs and wants ? What structure do we follow ? Where do we harness the power to keep going on ?
And then when we find out we are losing our keys, cannot keep track of our finances, or remember our address. Daily chores are confusing, we forget when we had our last meal. Then what do we do ?
Over the years these things intrigued me. They were part of my path to understanding how the brains of seniors who now face cognitive issues truly continue to function. Many were not aware, some were aware only because of their spouses or families or friends letting them know, while others never knew as this is still considered a taboo.
Why this makes it important is because of the potential to find solutions, solve problems, reach new goals and develop new programs and resources, while saving lives and giving everyone a chance towards a better quality of life.
Here are ways seniors both cope and don’t cope with memory loss:
- As they have a set routine, everything seems normal in the beginning and easy as always, until later….
- Some confide in their providers early as they believe in the power of communications and are curious to give themselves permission to be understood.
- Some seek the comfort of the families, familiar people, such that their disabilities are hidden until later. Unfortunately too late in some instances.
- Find resources for themselves.
- Stop committing to certain activities in the fear of being found out. Or camouflage at such very well.
- Struggle to balance a check book or finances and forget to pay bills. In some cases falling into financial trouble through scams, fraud, debts and lack of control of money through unnecessary spending.
- Become isolated, solitary and refusing to be social. Or more social, flamboyant.
- Start losing weight, with no proper nutrition, empty pantries, inability to make decisions to buy or choose healthy foods. Or gain weight by eating unhealthy foods and neglecting exercise.
- Become suspicious of little things, confronting caregivers or providers. Or being overly friendly to prevent people from knowing their problems.
- Lack of motivation, become depressed leading to poor appetite and its effects on aging.
- Lack of hygiene, or vice versa, such as obsessing over certain things.
- Hording issues or minimalist living.
- Inability to understand. Confusion and difficulty in comprehending.
- Experiencing increased falls and encountering more hazards at both home and outside.
- Safety issues, security risks, wandering around and confused.
- Lack of sleep or oversleeping.
- Losing friends or experiencing further isolation.
- Apprehensive of community resources, despite the need to ask for help. Boredom, self-medication and lack of seeking the much required comprehensive geriatric care.
It is sad that a lot of seniors will be going through this. We are destined to have a growing aging population. At some time, our world will have more seniors and cognitive issues will become an unmanageable challenge. What we commit now will be realized much later. It’s time to start somewhere. Let’s make these things a part of a health care assessment. By doing so, we will be making a positive impact on global healthy aging economics, senior living and longevity.