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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Use Impaired Memory to Cope with Everyday Living

Impaired memory will cause problems in everyday living. An individual with impaired memory may or may not be aware of the impairment. Therefore, it is important that family members do everything possible to help that individual to cope with everyday problems.

Money management is always a problem. Money is equivalent to independence. An impaired individual may be reluctant to relinquish control over money matters. But if that individual has difficulty in balancing the checkbook or shows reckless spending, then family members may have to take control of money management. It should be noted that it is common for an individual with dementia to become overtly anxious and suspicious, and may even accuse others of stealing his or her money.

An individual in the first phase of dementia may still hold on to his or her job if the job is not too demanding. However, at some point, giving up the job becomes inevitable. Family members should be more considerate, because giving up one's job implies giving up one's identity and self-worth. In addition, there may be other emotional, psychological, and financial implications that require adjustments. Help that individual to adjust accordingly. In particular, pay attention to the mental state: mental depression is not an uncommon outcome when employment ceases. If there is a problem with finance, the Social Security Act provides financial assistance in the form of Supplemental Disability Income. An individual who has worked 20 out of the past 40 calendar quarters will be eligible, and the amount is based on the earnings at the time when employment ceases.

Some individuals with dementia are aware of their own limitations and will stop driving, while others are unwilling to give up driving. If an individual demonstrates good vision, including peripheral vision, good hearing, good coordination of eyes, hands, and feet, and quick reaction, driving may not be an immediate issue. However, getting lost easily, or driving too slowly may be a good indication that it is time to give up driving, whether that individual wants it or not.  Also, an angry or aggressive temperament often points to the unsuitability of driving.

It is important that when helping individuals with an impaired mind to deal with their everyday problems, we should discuss frankly with them our concerns, but without criticizing their behaviors; we should offer alternatives without unduly emphasizing their disability. Understanding their problems and showing care and compassion hold the key to success in helping the impaired mind to cope with everyday problems.

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Stephen Lau
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