There are different things you can try.  Sometimes the person may mention a memory concern.  For example, he or she may say: “my memory isn’t what it used to be”.  You could respond: “There are many things that can cause memory changes – stress, vitamin deficiencies, hormone problems, and even medications.  Maybe you could find out what is going on by going to your doctor to get it checked out”.

If the person doesn’t mention any concerns about memory, there are still ways for you to bring up the subject:

  1. Give specific example(s) of what you’ve noticed.  For example, “I’ve noticed that keeping track of appointments has seemed more difficult lately”.  Then offer some help including the importance of seeing a doctor.  For example, “How about I help?  We can come up with a calendar/reminder system, and talk to your doctor about it”.
  2. Talk about your own concern about yourself in order to help the person know that he/she is not alone.  For example, “I have been feeling more like my memory isn’t as sharp as it used to be, so I think I will ask my doctor about it the next time I go.  Do you ever feel like your memory is changing?”.
  3. Talk about the importance of prevention and what can be done to lessen memory changes.  For example, “I read an article on about memory changes and what can be done to lessen them now so I think I’ll call and talk with staff at the Aging & Disability Resource Center/or doctor.  Do you want to go with me?”.

If the person seems to be denying his/her memory problems, and your observations seem to indicate memory difficulties that are worse than the person is expressing, you might try these ideas:

  1. Support the person’s perception while still encouraging he/she obtain an evaluation.  For example, “You are probably right and it may be no worse than anyone else’s, but it would make me feel better if we went and had it checked out.”
  2. As a last resort, if trying to discuss with the person doesn’t seem to work, you may need to call or write a letter to the person’s primary care provider stating your concerns and asking the clinic to call the person and tell him/her it’s time for his/her “regular appointment”.

The Aging & Disability Resource Center of Barron, Rusk, & Washburn Counties offers free, confidential baseline memory screens.  They take about 10 minutes and give you results instantly.  They are not diagnostic, but used as a screening tool.  Some people may be more comfortable starting that route than seeing their doctor.  Call 1-888-538-3031 to set up an appointment in office or at your home.

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