Create Memory Spots

A friend of mine told me recently that she is looking for the attachments to her new portable vacuum cleaner. She cleaned her car and put the vacuum cleaner away where it belongs but the attachments and instruction booklet have disappeared. She has looked everywhere. They will show up eventually. I was looking for the cushion for the chair on my front porch and I checked all the logical places. I put it away for the winter and eventually found it in a place that made sense at the time. Sound familiar?

Are you a person that tries to put things away in the same place?  You automatically know where to get a mug for coffee, a sharp knife for carving or perhaps the toothpicks. Everything is in its place. It is the items that are used infrequently that can be more of a challenge.

I remember when my mom moved into an assisted living from her apartment. I came in a few weeks later to help her organize things to the next level once she had settled in and established a routine. We went shopping for baskets and other items to make it easier to store some of the miscellaneous items and I thought moving her scissors to the basket with the pencils and pens would make sense because that is what I have done for decades. She said to keep them where they were since she had always stored them in the drawer to the right of the sink. It made me smile because she was always very organized and I do not ever remember her being frustrated about where she had put something until her later years when her memory started to decline.

One of my patient’s daughters was finding it harder for her to keep track of things now that her mother had moved in. With more responsibilities and distractions, she noted a few more memory problems of her own, more likely related to overload and stress.  She was good at putting her keys on the hook inside the door but it was all the odds and ends she would forget that annoyed her because it was time consuming. Some of the techniques she used included an attractive basket on the shelf by the back door to the garage.  She put things in there during the course of the day that she would need the next time she went out such as letters to mail, a grocery list or a coupon for an oil change. It took her awhile but eventually she trained herself to check it before leaving home.

I recently bought an extra phone charger so there is one upstairs and another downstairs and when the battery low warning appears I do not have to go looking for one. A simple thing but with a home office and spending a lot of time on the road, that step just eliminated one of those “where did I put it” moments. After years of trying to find the over the counter reading glasses at home, I decided the best option was to get prescription glasses and wear them all the time. Solved the problem!

TO DO THIS WEEK:

Think of something you spend time looking for and decide the place you feel would be best to keep it. Then work on putting it there regularly and it will soon become a habit. Create a memory spot notebook  or memo on your phone with the location of things your rarely use or an item you hide for a special occasion. Another thought is to be careful when visiting an older adult who is somewhat forgetful. Do not move their things without checking first or ask where you should put something away if you are helping out.

“Good habits, once established are just as hard to break as bad habits.”  Robert Puller

Quick Link to all blogs and Memory Toolkit.  For more tips refer to Walking the Path to Memory Fitness One Week at a Time.

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 (www.memoryfitnessmatters.com) and Communication Connection(www.connectionsincommunication.com). 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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