November 28, 2022
Memory Loss in Aging Adults
Memory loss, particularly in older adults, is something many of us will face with our loved ones. Just last week, while celebrating Thanksgiving with my husband's family, my sister-in-law broke down in tears over her husband's mother, who is advancing throughAlzheimer's. She can no longer remember most of the family, and she struggles with basic functions, such as how to rinse dishes properly.
Alzheimer.ca has a wealth of information surrounding this issue, as well as other types of memory loss in aging adults. They state that nearly 40% of adults will have some memory loss after the age of 65. Fewer still are the 5-8% of adults who will develop dementia after 60 years old. Dementia occurs when memory loss gradually worsens, to the point of not being able to take care of oneself. And, just in case you were wondering as I was, dementia is an umbrella of symptoms, while Alzheimer's is a specific disease and is the most common type of dementia.
There is also a middle stage that sits between expected, age-associated memory loss and dementia. This slightly higher than normal memory loss is called a mild cognitive impairment or MCI. The Mayo Clinic gives a helpful list of symptoms to look for that may help identify MCI. These include forgetting things more often, missing appointments, having trouble following a conversation, and having trouble navigating places you know well.
How Technology Can Help
Some of us are naturally forgetful, and I found the technology ideas I crossed to include many items I already use in my daily life. But my aging parents may not be so attached to technology as I am, so it's important that I recognize the need to get these things into my parents' hands before they really need it.
This year has been an especially busy one at work, and I found my own calendar so cluttered with appointments, that I started missing some. I found an add-on for Chrome, Checker Plus for Google Calendar. With Checker Plus, I have more options for viewing my calendar (I prefer its streamlined agenda view.), as well as options for reminders. I now dock my calendar on one of my several monitors at my desk and have reminders set for 10 and 1 minutes prior to appointments. The reminders now play for me in a male, British voice, which reads my appointment to me. This has gotten a chuckle out of coworkers, but is truly so helpful! Of course, there are many apps out there with similar capabilities, and even setting up the reminders for aging parents and friends might be just the help they need. There are also such apps that can be set up remotely, soo you can assist loved ones from the comfort of your own home.
Alright. So the tech comes in the form of various pill sorters, bottles, etc. that have incorporated timers. Many of these can be locked and only open at the correct time and with an alarm sounding until the medication is taken. I wanted to highlight some particularly amazing example of this technology, but my quick Amazon.com search came up with 65 results, and all very unique. So, I will instead invite you to search the internets for yourself and, as this article from alzheimers.org.uk suggests, speak with your pharmacist for advice or suggestions regarding the best pill timer option for you and your loved one.
The Tile is one popular brand of many that sell Bluetooth trackers. You can attach these small trackers to just about anything, from keys, to wallets, to shoes. And then the objects can be located on a smartphone.