Find the Memory Props that Work

I am often asked by those with memory frustrations whether or not they should use memory props. “Isn’t it better to just try and remember?”  Here is the problem.  You are busy, or you get interrupted or distracted. In the moment you think you will recall and then much later you realize something you should have done and didn’t. Or maybe you made a note of it on a scrap of paper and then cannot find it a few minutes later.

The other day I deviated from the system I use since I spend a lot of time driving each day to see my home health care patients. Keeping track of all the paperwork is a real challenge. The system I use that seems to be working more often than not is using a pad of paper in one color for things I need to recall or do related to my speaking schedule. There is another one in a different color for my therapy “to do” list.

Working at home the other day, instead of going into my office to get the green pad of paper, I wrote it on a sticky note instead. Then I could not find it when I packed up the car for the day so I rewrote it. Of course, I left something off. Sound familiar? When things like that happen, it reminds me that the next time I need to take that extra moment and stick to my system.

In their book Small Change -  It is the LITTLE Things in Life that Make a BIG Difference, Susan and Larry Terkel state that “small changes are easier than big makeovers.”  Do not expect to fix all of those forgetful situations at once.

For this week pick just one thing that is a repeated memory issue and create a solution. Perhaps it is locating your car keys or some other item you typically misplace. Pick a specific “home” for it and then make an effort to put it there all the time.

You are not going to always be successful, but stay with it. Once you learn to do this repeatedly it is likely that it will become more of a habit, and the pattern is likely to carryover to other items.

“This one step – choosing a goal and sticking to it – changes everything.”
Scott Reed

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About Kathryn Kilpatrick

Kathryn Kilpatrick received her Master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 1968 from the University of Massachusetts. She has worked in a variety of settings, primarily in Ohio, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and for decades in the area of home health care. Kathryn is president of Memory Fitness Matters ( and Communication Connection( She offers memory coaching for all ages and has a geriatric consulting practice. She is a national motivational speaker and author of more than 30 products to enhance communication and connection as well as a Memory Fitness Toolkit. Kathryn brings her decades of experience as a speech-language pathologist to all those wanting to enhance their quality of life, particularly when there are communication, memory and cognitive challenges. Her websites offer information on a wide variety of topics related to elder care concerns as well as memory fitness and successful aging.
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