In memory of Florence Mitchell

                                                   September 5, 1918 to January 15, 2005

I created this in 2003 for my website since my mom was experiencing increased memory loss and I felt I wanted to share some insights. She was a woman who took great pride in her verbal, written and organizational skills so her memory loss was a source of great frustration to her.

Her influence brought me to the place where I do the work that I do today and she became my teacher in a whole different way now. I can still see myself at the kitchen table as a grade school student working on projects, playing games like Scrabble etc. She gave me permission to share some of the strategies she had been using as she dealt with her increased frustrations with memory loss. Perhaps you will find that these tips will be helpful to someone you know who is becoming more forgetful.

One of the things my mom enjoyed was her correspondence with friends. When she would come to visit me in Ohio, she would enjoy sending her friends postcards and it was always her style to tell them what she did on certain days of her visit. Her way of handling the forgetfulness was to keep a calendar of what she did each day. When she wrote her postcards, she would use it to help her share her memories.


Mom designated a special drawer for her keys and has a small little purse that she took with her to the dining room at mealtime at the assisted living where she has lived since June, 2002. It has her keys, vitamins and the medications she needs to take. This is a ritual she followed three times a day and it worked well for her.


She organized her clothing (primarily her slacks and sweaters or jackets since she is often cold) so that everyday outfits that match were hung up together in her closet. Mom felt it took some of the frustration out of finding what to wear.

Keeping track of appointments and her to do lists became a problem. We put together a week at a time planner which was small enough to fit in her purse. It has pockets in the front and back so she tries to remember to put the loose papers and appointment cards in those slots rather than have them in various places in her assisted living apartment.


When we were out of town at a wedding and shared a hotel room, the change in her routine and setup was confusing to her at times with the flurry of activity. At one point, she tucked something away but not before asking me to remember where she put it in case she forgot. (That meant I had to remember!)

She has a day-at-a-time calendar on her kitchen table. She would write down an appointment she had that day. The information was also in her small calendar but this way she had something she can refer to more easily during the day.

With a significant increase in word finding, ordering her meals at the assisted living could be frustrating. Recently she started a new routine which was working very well. She took the menu for the week with her to the dining room in her little purse, folded over to the current day. When she ordered, she pointed to the options she wanted. It is also a handy reference tool for checking what the other meal choices were for that day.

My mom was a very special lady and even with some of her limitations,for the longest time, she tried to create her own strategies. Thanks for helping me to help others.You are with me each and every day.


The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom.
Henry Ward Beecher