The Wisdom Within: Managing Symptoms of Memory Loss

Tuesday, April 09, 2024

Memory loss, whether due to aging, neurological conditions or other factors, can present profound challenges that touch every aspect of daily life. From coping with forgetfulness and disorientation to managing emotions and maintaining independence, the journey of memory loss is multifaceted and deeply personal.

In this blog, we embark on a journey to explore the intricacies of memory loss and discover the strategies and insights that empower you and your loved one to navigate this challenging terrain with resilience and grace. You will learn methods for managing symptoms of memory loss that will help both your loved one and your family.

Challenging Symptoms of Memory Loss

Memory loss can manifest in various ways, often impacting daily life and causing distress to individuals and their loved ones.Those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia may exhibit a wide range of behavioral symptoms that may be detrimental to their own safety or the safety of others.

Oftentimes, negative behavioral symptoms may be caused by an unmet need or stressor. Other causes may be:

  • Lack of routine or structure in daily life, leading to increased confusion or disorientation
  • Fatigue from insufficient sleep or excessive tiredness, leading to increased forgetfulness
  • Physical health issues, such as infections or dehydration, could affect brain function and worsen memory loss
  • Medications may have side effects that impair cognitive function, especially if not properly monitored or adjusted
  • Environmental factors or unfamiliar surroundings can contribute to confusion

The first step is understanding the problem behavior and understanding the why behind it, so that you can effectively manage your loved one’s symptoms.

Anxiety or Stress

Individuals with dementia may experience feelings of anxiety or stress related to their memory loss. These feelings may be most common for those in earlier stages who still have awareness of their condition. Those who are just starting on their memory loss journey may worry about changes they will experience and what the future might hold for them.

People living with dementia may struggle to recall recent events or information, leading to frustration and confusion. They may feel uncomfortable in unfamiliar, loud or chaotic environments. Anxiety could also stem from difficulty with completing simple or previously familiar tasks. Sometimes, the person may be anxious due to unmet physical needs that they are having trouble communicating to a caregiver.

Unfortunately, feelings of anxiety and stress can exacerbate symptoms of memory loss.


Depression is a common problem among those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of memory loss. Some may be depressed due to worries about future symptoms or relationship changes, or a reaction to negative experiences. For others, depression may stem from damage to parts of the brain involved in mood.


Memory loss can sometimes result in disorientation or confusion, causing individuals to wander aimlessly or become lost, especially in unfamiliar surroundings. Wandering can happen at any stage of the disease.

Anger or Aggression

Frustration and anxiety due to memory problems can escalate into anger or aggression toward caregivers. Individuals may feel overwhelmed by their inability to remember or communicate effectively, leading to outbursts or irritability.


In some cases, hallucinations can accompany memory loss, where individuals perceive things that are not present. These hallucinations can be frightening or confusing, further complicating cognitive difficulties.

Appetite Issues

Changes in appetite, such as loss of interest in food or forgetting to eat, can be indicators of memory loss. These changes may contribute to nutritional deficiencies and overall health decline.

Sleep Problems and Restlessness

Memory loss can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep. Restlessness and nighttime wandering may also occur, impacting both your loved one’s rest and yours.

Elder care nurse playing jigsaw puzzle with senior woman in nursing homeHow To Manage Challenging Symptoms of Memory Loss

While you may do everything possible to help mitigate factors that can be a catalyst for certain behaviors, it’s also important to have a plan in place for each symptom of memory loss. This way, you’re prepared to meet your loved one where they are and help support them in any way they need.

Take a look at the following ways to manage these particularly challenging symptoms of memory loss:

Anxiety or Stress

Above all, managing stress for a loved one involves being patient and supportive. Try to live in your loved one’s reality.

Provide gentle reminders to your loved one and create a calm, soothing environment. Encourage activities that help them reconnect with their earlier life and passions.


While antidepressant medication is generally widely used to treat feelings of depression, it may not be as effective for those with dementia. One of the best ways to combat depression is by providing opportunities for an improved quality of life. Find activities that provide your loved one with a sense of purpose, fun or fulfillment.

Consider underlying issues that may contribute to your loved one’s feelings of depression, such as loneliness or even pain from a chronic illness. Find ways to address these potential causes.


To address wandering behavior, immediately redirect your loved one’s pacing or restlessness into productive activities to engage them.

Regular exercise can help minimize restlessness, and offering reassurance and guidance if they appear disoriented is important.

Providing distractions or engaging activities during times when wandering tends to occur can also be helpful, along with reducing noise levels and confusion in the environment.


When dealing with anger, it’s crucial to avoid confrontation and refrain from initiating physical contact during outbursts to prevent further agitation.

Providing your loved one with a timeout in a safe space and distracting them with more pleasant topics or activities can help shift their focus away from anger.


Maintaining a consistent and calm environment is key to managing hallucinations, as it can help reduce stress and anxiety.

Avoid exposure to disturbing programs or content that could heighten hallucinations and paranoia.

Appetite Issues

Poor nutrition, which can be caused by loss of appetite or forgetting to eat, can impact brain health and lead to worsening memory loss symptoms. To encourage better eating habits, minimize distractions during mealtimes, serve easy-to-manage foods, use colored dishes to enhance visual perceptions, and monitor chewing and swallowing difficulties that can cause issues when eating.

Encouraging moderate exercise can also help to stimulate hunger and monitoring medications for any interference with appetite are important steps.

Sleep Problems and Restlessness

Recognizing that brain diseases often disrupt the sleep-wake cycle is important. Minimizing confusion, overstimulation, and fatigue during the day can help reduce nighttime insecurity.

Improving the sleep environment by reducing noise and light, establishing a regular sleep schedule, and keeping a night light on can promote better sleep.

Increasing daytime physical activity while monitoring napping and limiting caffeine intake, especially in the afternoon and evening, are also helpful strategies.

Close up of a group of senior women using a laptop in the living roomThe Importance of Self-Care for Caregivers

Now that you know how to support your loved one, you also need to remember to take care of yourself as well. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or memory loss can be an incredibly demanding and stressful experience. The challenges of managing their care, coupled with the emotional toll of witnessing their decline, can take a significant toll on caregivers.

When you’re stressed and tired, it becomes increasingly difficult to remain calm and soothing in your interactions with the person you’re caring for. They are incredibly perceptive and can pick up on your negative feelings, which can, in turn, increase their level of stress and lead to escalated behavioral issues.

It’s essential to prioritize self-care and seek support for both your well-being and the quality of life for your loved one. Accept help, take breaks, seek respite care and lean on support networks to alleviate the burden and prevent burnout.

Remember, by caring for yourself, you’re better equipped to provide the compassionate care your loved one deserves.

Compassionate Care at Bridges® by EPOCH

At Bridges® by EPOCH, we understand the emotional rollercoaster of coping with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. We believe in empowering both individuals and their loved ones with knowledge, resources and support.

Contact us to schedule a personalized tour of the closest community to you. You will experience our warm and inviting environment, meet our dedicated care team, and learn more about our individualized approach to memory care.

Learn More About Bridges®

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