Alzheimer’s Association encourages families to discuss memory loss


How to prepare for the conversation:

— Have the conversation as early as possible

— Think about who is best suited to initiate the conversation

— Practice thoughtful conversation starters. Consider an open-ended question such as “I’ve noticed a few changes in your behavior lately, and I wanted to see if you’ve noticed these changes as well?”

— If needed, have multiple conversations. Unless it’s a crisis situation, don’t force the conversation. Take a step back, regroup and revisit the subject in a week or two.

DAYTON — During Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, the Miami Valley Alzheimer’s Association is urging families to talk about memory loss and cognitive decline.

“It’s a conversation no family wants to have – talking to a loved one about memory loss or cognitive decline,” an Alzheimer’s Association release said. “The signs are there. Your loved one gets confused about time, dates and places. They get lost driving home. Simple tasks or family names escape them.”

A new survey by the Alzheimer’s Association reveals that nearly 9 in 10 Americans experiencing memory loss, thinking problems or other symptoms of cognitive decline would want others to tell them and share their concerns. Nearly 75 percent of Americans say that talking to a close family member about memory loss, thinking problems, or other signs of cognitive problems would be challenging for them.

Rebecca Hall, director of care and support for the association, said, “Starting a conversation with a loved one about memory loss or other signs and symptoms of dementia can be very challenging because of the strong emotions that families may experience, including grief, denial, fear, and even anger. But we urge families not to delay the conversation because early detection is so important. Early detection enables a person to plan for the future, access treatment for symptoms, and participate in clinical trials.”

Rev. Scott Griswold said his wife started noticing signs that something was different about him. At the same time, as pastor of The United Church in South Vienna, he noticed that speaking was becoming more difficult for him. He and his wife talked and Griswold decided to go see his doctor. He was diagnosed with dementia Alzheimer’s.

The association suggests three steps to help families have the conversation with a loved one they are concerned about. They are: assess changes, begin a conversation, and contact the Alzheimer’s Association for help.

“Care and support staff at the Alzheimer’s Association can help families work through the challenge of starting a conversation about possible signs and symptoms of dementia and beyond. Staff at our local chapter can meet with families to provide tips for approaching the conversation, answer questions about signs and symptoms, and provide resources for what may come next,” Hall said.

Residents can call the association’s 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900 or go to alz.org/dayton for more information.

Griswold said, “It’s all about recognizing behavioral changes. The only way you are ever going to know anything is you have got to see your doctor.”

How to prepare for the conversation:

— Have the conversation as early as possible

— Think about who is best suited to initiate the conversation

— Practice thoughtful conversation starters. Consider an open-ended question such as “I’ve noticed a few changes in your behavior lately, and I wanted to see if you’ve noticed these changes as well?”

— If needed, have multiple conversations. Unless it’s a crisis situation, don’t force the conversation. Take a step back, regroup and revisit the subject in a week or two.