Those who are newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia often become frustrated by forgetting the simple things in life — doctor’s appointments, people’s names, phone numbers, when to take medications, etc.
There are a variety of memory aids that seniors with dementia can use to help alleviate some of this frustration, however.
Learn more from the top four memory aids for seniors with dementia.
Today’s best memory aids take advantage of the latest technology. Virtual assistants like Alexa or Google Home will help seniors remember when it’s time to start dinner, leave for a doctor’s appointment, or watch their favorite TV show. The smart functions of these devices can also turn off lights, lock doors, or adjust the thermostat. In addition, they can add items to a shopping list, tell seniors about the weather, and remind them what day of the week it is — all through simple voice commands or requests.
Seniors can also use electronic devices such as a computer, mobile phone, or tablets to set audio or visual reminders of tasks they need to accomplish. In addition, these devices have GPS functions to provide directions to wherever they wish to go — either by driving, using public transit or walking. As dementia progresses, however, it’s important that seniors have their driving skills evaluated regularly to ensure it is safe for them to continue driving.
Object locator devices are another way to assist those with dementia. Looking for lost cellphones, eyeglasses, and keys is a tremendous time-waster — for those with or without dementia. If this happens more and more often, investing in a Bluetooth tracker or another type of locator might be well worth the cost.
While memory aids are helpful, they don’t replace human interaction.
If someone you love has dementia, call or stop by to verify that the memory aids they are using are adequate for their needs.
One of the most important dementia memory aids is a medication reminder. Using a pillbox marked with the days of the week is the low-cost, low-tech way to remind seniors to take their medication. When dementia progresses and/or the daily medication regime becomes too complicated for them to manage, another option to consider is an automated medication dispenser with an audio reminder.
Some of these dispensers cost several hundred dollars and, in some cases, have monthly fees. However, they do provide peace of mind for loved ones who worry that their parent will forget to take their medication or inadvertently take a double dose.
Using a calendar to write down appointments, events, and family birthdays is a must for those who are having memory difficulties. Options include a 12-month wall calendar, a monthly dry-erase calendar, a 365-day desk calendar, or perhaps a combination of these. Seniors can fill these out on their own or with the help of a family member.
Other helpful strategies include using bulletin boards, sticky notes, or “to-do” pads to write down appointment times, phone numbers or reminders about easy-to-overlook tasks like checking the mail or finishing the laundry. Checklists are yet another useful tool, helping those with memory issues to ensure that daily tasks were completed. Another way to assist those with dementia is to create labels for cabinets and drawers so that it’s easier to locate household items and return them to their proper places.
Verifying all of these tasks is a good way to ensure you don’t inadvertently spoil food, kill the plants, or cause unsafe conditions in the home.
Diane Franklin is a freelance writer and editor who writes regularly about senior living and healthcare. She has also written hundreds of articles for business and trade publications, including leading magazines for the credit union and retail paint industries.
What memory aids have worked best in your family? We’d like to hear your stories and any tips you may have in the comments below.