Tips for the Elderly
Loss in Elders
Changes in Normal Ageing
memory decline is part of normal ageing, such that many elders feel that
they have poor memory or worry that they have dementia. In fact, loss
of memory is influenced by physical health, lifestyle habits and educational
level of the individual. Older people are capable of maintaining a good
memory through exercising their minds frequently and using appropriate
Myths and Facts about "Memory Loss"
people are bound to have poor memory.
people cannot learn new things.
can do nothing to improve our memory.
people with poor memory must be suffering from dementia.
decline among the elderly is very gradual and is usually not obvious
until after the age of 70. Older people can still maintain short-term
(i.e. from a few seconds to 1-2 minutes), long-term (i.e. details
of events happening years ago) and procedural (e.g. steps in the practice
of Tai Chi) memory.
people still have the ability to learn, especially in grasping concepts
of new skills. e.g. playing chess and cooking.
can be improved and preserved through training and practising memory
skills and the use of appropriate strategies.
from memory loss, dementia also involves a decline in cognitive and
intellectual function such as comprehension, learning capacity, the
ability to think and calculate, as well as language and judgment.
Factors Affecting Memory in the Elderly
and external interference or distractions.
leading to poor concentration.
of opportunity for practising and rehearsing.
stress and emotional problems, e.g. depression and anxiety.
of confidence: some older people consider themselves as stupid, poorly
educated, and hold fear for new things, hence become too pessimistic
Tips for improving Memory
to one task at a time and avoid external distraction.
information and remember them one by one, e.g. learning Tai Chi one
step at a time.
items to old memories to be remembered, and form images to which can
be exaggerated for more vivid memory, e.g. to alert oneself of the
serious consequence of forgetting to switch off the fire after boiling
a kettle of water, try to visualize an elephant dashing into a swimming
pool, leading to splashing of water with a banging noise.
numerical information into groups. e.g. telephone number 2121 8080.
information by putting similar items in the same list, e.g. when shopping.
information: understand information thoroughly and focus attention
on the main points, put aside the details.
and practise repeatedly.
observant and notice the special features, e.g. special facial characteristic
optimal function of the senses. Seek medical attention early if there
is problem in hearing or eyesight. Wear spectacles or hearing aid
self-confident and adopt a positive attitude.
coping strategies or memory aids, e.g. draw up checklists and timetable,
use tape recorder and electrical appliances such as medication alarm,
big calender, colourful labels and pictures, etc.
summary, if elders effectively apply the above skills in daily living,
they are capable of maintaining good memory. However, if there is rapid
deterioration in memory, affecting daily life and home safety, professional
advice should be sought.
Book on Psychosocial Health Promotion in the Elderly (Traditional