Where Did I Put My...

Wallet? Keys? Phone? Sound familiar? Whether you are someone who is generally forgetful, disorganized, or has a diagnosis that involves memory loss or cognitive decline (such as Alzheimer's Disease), check out the following self-help tips that involve molding your environment to suit your needs. This is also called making "environmental modifications." Creating a habit out of any of these before you experience any memory problems will help you even more when you do actually have any. 

Environmental Mods for Memory Loss

Staying organized and placing items in the same spots can make a HUGE difference. Remember that you can always change your environment to fit you a little better.  Which one of the following environmental modifications will you consider using? Why or why not? How will you customize the following to suit your own needs? (Items in links are examples and only suggestions!) 

  • If you forget your keys/phone/wallet/chapstick as you leave the house,
    • Put a bowl or tray by the front door specifically for those items. 
    • Place a label at the bottom of the container  ("KEYS, WALLET") in a color and font size that catches your eye so that you put those items into that container when you get in the house. 
    • If you don't have a surface by your doorway, consider buying a console table to place right next to the door or install floating shelves if you have a smaller entryway. Make sure to install these shelves low enough that you would actually see the bowl and be reminded to place your items in them. 
  • If you like to change handbags:
    • Write a list of items you usually need in your handbag. 
    • Put some thought into where you would put up this list? By your doorway? Next to all of your handbags? Both?
  • If you need to keep track of multiple medications: 
    • And mostly stay at home, try out a timer cap to replace the caps of your pill bottles with. It has an alarm that you can set and keeps track of how much time has passed since the last time the cap was moved. 
    • And often leave the house, get a pill organizer. There are many different products out there, so consider how many pills you take and whether you have to take them at different times of the day. If you  For example, there is this simpler AM/PM one and this one for 4 doses a day
    • And are on the go, try out an app in addition to a pill organizer. Medisafe for Google/Android and Dosecast for Apple seem to be the most popular. Again, do your research and make sure it will serve your specific needs before spending time setting alarms and inputting info. 
  • If you forget the shopping list: 
    • ...In the house: place a whiteboard where it makes the most sense to you. For some people, that means the fridge, and others, it means by the doorway. I put mine on the wall opposite the doorway and right in front of the kitchen, so that I can easily get to it when I need to write an item down as I'm puttering around the kitchen, but also see it as I leave the house. 
    • ...As you leave the house: Take a picture of it on your phone. I might forget or lose the list, but I never forget my phone. Or stick the list in your wallet. 
    • ....In the car: Put the shopping list on a piece of bright paper and put it in a cup holder so that it catches your eye as you leave the car. 
  • If you forget what you were supposed to do that day: 
    • And mostly stay at home, keep a large calendar in your house where you can write down the list of to-do's for each day as you think of it. Make it eye catching and/or personalized to increase your likelihood of consistently using it. Again, put some thought into where in your environment you want to place it. By the phone? By the door? By your desk? On the fridge?
    • And are in and out of the house most of the time, keep a little pocket notebook with you in which you can write down notes as you remember them. Each morning, take some time to sort through that little notebook to write down a daily agenda. 
    • Keep a daily planner that you can carry with you. For someone with Alzheimer's Disease, remembering what they did each day becomes more difficult, so keeping a daily planner will help to reduce confusion. 
  • If you forget what you were supposed to wear that day: 
    • Place a chair by your bed where you place your outfit. Try choosing your outfit the night before as well to save yourself some time and energy. 

What are some other problems that you face? What are your solutions? Share in the comments!