If you have early Alzheimer’s — or if you simply have a bad memory — it can impair your ability to do simple as well as complicated tasks. Here are 25 tips that can help you compensate for your declining memory.
1. Cook in the microwave rather than the stove as often as possible so it won’t matter if you go off and forget whatever you’re cooking.
2. Make a list of things you have to do and always put the list in the same place.
3. Make sticky note reminders and put them in places where you’re sure to see them.
4. If you get distracted while trying to drive with other people in the car, let someone else drive.
5. Make a shopping list even if there are only three or four items on it. It may save you from having to return to the store later.
6. Never leave the room when water is running in a sink or bathtub, even if you plan to come back soon. You may forget about it and cause a flood.
7. Put things you’ll need when you go out (phone, glasses, etc.) right beside your keys to be sure you’ll remember to take them. This works because you most likely won’t go anywhere without your keys.
8. If a task is too complicated for you don’t even try to do it if it’s just going to frustrate you. Try to find someone else to do it even if you have to pay them.
9. If you use a laptop for work, put it right in front of the door last thing in the evening so you won’t forget to take it to work.
10. It isn’t advisable to use the stove (use the microwave instead), but if you do, stay right there to avoid forgetting it and burning up the pan or starting a fire.
11. If you’re going to a meeting make a detailed list of what you want to say.
12. If you forget the date or day of the week, look on your cell phone.
13. It isn’t advisable to burn candles, but if you do, put them very far from all other objects in case you forget to extinguish them.
14. If you have trouble remembering people’s names, just greet them without saying their name. Simply saying “hello” is better than calling them by the wrong name.
15. Print out important documents in your computer so if you can’t find them or you accidentally delete them, you’ll still have copies that could be retyped.
16. Put objects in prominent places to remind you to do things. For example, putting a laundry basket on the floor in the middle of a room will remind you to do the laundry.
17. When you call someone, write down your phone number and put it beside the phone in case you have to leave a voice mail requesting a return call and you can’t remember your number on the spot.
18. If you are learning anything new — even something simple — write down exactly how to do it for future reference, especially if it’s something you won’t be doing very often.
19. If you can’t follow along in courses or seminars don’t go to them. Instead get a book or a tutor so you can learn at your own pace.
20. Make a general rule not to spend too much time looking for things you’ve misplaced. They may be in some strange place and will probably turn up later when you’re doing something else.
21. Try to always put your keys, glasses, etc. in the same place.
22. Use pill boxes to remind you to take medication.
23. Consider doing things when they’re first on your mind rather than waiting until later so you don’t have to worry about forgetting them.
24. When you have to drive to certain places (such as the airport, for example) if it’s too stressful, have someone else drive or take a bus or taxi.
25. Above all, stick to the same daily routine as much as possible.
Not all items will apply to every person. Just pick out the ones that are relevant to you.
You may wonder how you can remember all these tips, and that’s a good question. I recommend you start with a few, then add others as time goes by. Also, put this list somewhere you’ll see it. Finally, you can ask other people to remind you of the items on the list. While these tips won’t help you compensate for all memory problems, they can go a long way toward improving your functioning despite your memory problems.
This list is not complete by any means. Does anyone have other strategies to add?
Marie Marley is the award-winning author of ‘Come Back Early Today: A Memoir of Love, Alzheimer’s and Joy.’ Caregivers say it helped them a lot, and former caregivers say they wish they’d had it when they were caregivers. She is also co-author (with Daniel C. Potts, MD, FAAN) of ‘Finding Joy in Alzheimer’s: New Hope for Caregivers. Her website (ComeBackEarlyToday.com) contains a wealth of information for Alzheimer’s caregivers.
This article originally appeared on the Alzheimer’s Reading Room. http://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/2014/11/25-tips-for-surviving-as-alzheimers.html#more