Senior moments are annoying for the senior, as well as frustrating those in daily contact. Sudden confusion and anger are common symptoms. Forgetting a familiar name is embarrassing. Failure to answer a simple question, such as momentarily drawing a blank when asked about one’s phone number or home address, makes the senior feel inadequate.
Most of these incidents are not signs of an organic problem, such as dimentia or senility, but just because of a senior’s natural slowing down mentally and physically. If it is determined that medical help is not immediately necessary, there are ways to manage senior moments.
1. Resist your inclination to meet anger with anger, and show understanding and patience. Ask the senior to explain the moment of forgetfulness, and guide the situation to a favorable conclusion. For example: Did you forget where you put your purse this morning? Let me help you. Do you leave it in the same place every night before you go to bed? Let’s start there.
2. Suggest a period of rest. It’s only natural that old age tends to slow the mind down, as it does to the body, and can lead to mental exhaustion. For example: Maybe you’re just doing too much right now, and you can’t think straight. It happens to all of us. Why don’t we just sit for awhile, take a few breaths and tackle this problem about your prescriptions again when we’ve both had a little rest.
3. Offer something to eat and drink. Sometimes the elderly have senior moments because they forget to keep up their necessary food and medications. After several days they feel weakness and confusion that affects their thinking. For example: I’ve looked in your fridge, and all the food we brought you three days ago is still there. Or, I’ve checked your medications in the bathroom cabinet, and you’ve neglected to take them regularly.
Let’s straighten this up together. We’ll go to your favorite restaurant and get you some nourishing food. Take your meds along, and we’ll make sure you’re back on schedule.
4. Family members in constant touch with their elderly relatives should check frequently with them by phone to avoid overlooked appointments and other important tasks. For example: Let’s go over your schedule and make sure we’re not missing anything you’ll need to do. Let’s check now on upcoming appointments you have in coming days.
5. Do more intense monitoring of the aged person who seems to be experiencing senior moments more and more frequently. If they involve dangerous situations, such as driving or cooking, take immediate steps to get medical help. For example: You fell asleep with your stove burners on and almost started a house fine. Or, you’ve had two fender-bender accidents lately. Don’t you think it’s time for you to be tested or give up driving?
Managing senior moments can be most successful if both the elderly person and aware family members share in solving the problems. By keeping in close contact with each other, those unwelcome happenings can be worked out safely and peacefully together.