5 First Steps If You Suspect Memory Loss Problems in a Loved One


Talk to the person about their physical health. If you see memory lapses in a loved one, your initial thought may be to avoid talking about it with him or her. But early screening and detection of abnormal memory loss means better quality of life. Ask your loved one if he or she has recently changed medications or have a new combination. Physical ailments such as B12 deficiencies and even urinary tract infections can cause memory lapses.


Talk to others who see the person regularly. Friends, neighbors and other family members are an invaluable source of information on your loved one’s mental state. Do they find your loved one is repeating stories? Does your loved one share stories of getting lost or misplacing things with their friends?


Talk to the person about how he or she feels about his or her memory. After you’ve spoken with others close to your loved one, you may want to go back and talk about memory loss. Has he or she experienced frustration with things such as not being able to locate keys or forgetting familiar names and faces?


Avoid words such as “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s.” Until you have a medical diagnosis, use the term “memory loss,” because that’s what it really is. You may frighten a loved one if you insist on talking about a diagnosis before it’s made.


Get the loved one to see a doctor. The next obvious step – going to see his or her doctor – may be the most difficult. There is so much confusion and fear associated with memory loss that you may have trouble encouraging the loved one to go. Enlist family members and friends to urge the loved one to go. You may also want to attend the doctor’s visit so that any diagnosis or recommendations are heard first hand. Also, you and your loved one can sign consent forms to allow the doctor’s office to alert you to appointments, medications, etc. in lieu of or in addition to your loved one being contacted.