I turned 50 last year. Given my family history of dementia, I was not happy to read that as many as half of people my age and older have some memory loss.
I've noticed my already poor navigation skills have declined lately, and I can't multitask the way I used to. It's not just me - my friends complain about missing appointments, bouncing checks and forgetting words. Even worse, they lose the calendars and smartphones that are supposed to keep them on track!
Modern medicine doesn't have a cure for memory loss, at least not yet. Without a medical fix, are there things we can do to make living with memory loss easier? I posed that question to some of my friends with more serious memory loss. Here are some of their practical ideas that make sense to me:
1. Experiment with a whiteboard for orientation and reminders. Use to record the date, where family members are, appointments, reminders, etc.
2. Plan ahead for meals and snacks that require little or no preparation - rollups, microwaveable meals, fruit and cheese, etc.
3. Use a flashlight to focus your attention and help you find things, even in the daylight. Sometimes the beam of a flashlight will help you see something that's been there all along.
4. Especially if you have physical disabilities, apply for a disabled parking permit. It will make it easier to remember where you parked.
5. Carry a portable binder or portfolio to organize important papers, notes, lists and maps. Put everything you need in the binder well before you're in a rush to get out the door.
6. Enroll in online banking. Go online every day to check your balance, track checks that have cleared and confirm other transactions.
7. Try a GPS navigator. If possible, borrow one before you buy to see whether it's helpful or distracting.
8. Preplan and store together entire outfits, including shoes and accessories. This makes it easy to get dressed and out the door.
I've been experimenting with some of these tips myself. We put a whiteboard up where we come in fromt he garage, and use it as a sort of "sign-out sheet." We also keep lists and reminders on the board. We bought a GPS navigator, and when it works, I can concentrate on driving instead of worrying about getting lost. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that well here in Tampa Bay.
Please leave a comment and tell me how these ideas work for you, or if you have a tip you'd like to share!