Confusion, Memory Loss, and Altered Alertness - Home Treatment
As you age, it is normal to
experience some memory lapses. Usually, an occasional memory lapse does not
mean you have a serious problem. Try these steps to help
improve your memory:
- Focus your attention. Often forgetfulness may
mean that you have too much on your mind. Slow down and pay full attention to
the task you are doing now.
- Stick to a routine. Complete common
tasks in the same order each time you do them.
- Structure your
environment to help improve your memory.
- Use calendars and clocks.
lists, notes, and other helpful devices as reminders.
- Write your
daily activities on a calendar or daily planner, and keep it in a place where
you can see it easily.
- Store easy-to-lose items in the same place
each time after you use them. For example, install a hook by the door and hang
your keys from it every time you come in.
- Try memory tricks, such as the following:
- To remember a person's name, repeat it
several times after being introduced.
- To recall numbers, group them
and then relate them to a date or story. For example, if your personal
identification number (PIN) is 2040, remember it with the phrase "20 plus 20
equals 40." Be sure to write down all your important numbers and keep them in a safe place.
- Retrace your steps if you can't remember why you went
into a room.
- Reduce your stress. Being anxious can impair your
memory. For more information, see the topic
- Review all your
prescription and nonprescription
medicines and dosages with your doctor or pharmacist.
Many medicines, by themselves or in combination with other medicines, can cause
mental confusion. Also, confusion may occur when medicines interact in your
body. If you see several doctors, make sure that they all know what other
medicines you are taking. Have all of your prescriptions filled at the same
pharmacy. Ask your doctor or pharmacist whether the combination of your
medicines could cause problems.
Ginkgo biloba is a popular herbal treatment for memory
problems. But studies have not shown that ginkgo biloba helps improve memory or prevent dementia.1 Before you use any treatment for a memory problem, discuss the
potential risks and benefits of the treatment with your doctor.
Living with a family member who has a decline in memory, problem-solving
ability, learning ability, or judgment (dementia) is
hard. To ensure your family member's
health and safety, give him or her short instructions
when teaching a new task. Break the task down into simple steps. You may find
it helpful to give the person written instructions.