We’ve all been there where we just can’t quite remember a person’s name or have no idea where we put our car keys once again.
As your aging parent continues to get older, he may find he’s struggling more with his memory than he has in the past. While a large loss of memory can be an indicator of something more serious going on, smaller memory issues that trip up your parent daily may just be the result of his brain getting older and losing some of its ability to remember things as well as it used to.
Minor memory issues often tend to be more annoying and time traps than anything else.
No one likes the feeling of forgetting a neighbor’s name for the third time or spending hours searching through the house for a set of keys. While you and your elder care provider can help your aging parent with some of these issues when you’re around, it’s also helpful to give him some tactics to help him when you’re not present.
Find a place for important items
Rather than having your parent (or you or his elder care provider if you were the ones driving) throw his car keys on the counter or on a table when he gets home, create a specific hook or shelf that all keys should always reside when not being used. It can be a little while before your parent builds up the habit of putting them there, so if you or your elder care provider see his keys somewhere else, let your parent know you’ve found the keys out of place and are going to put them where they belong. This will help make it a habit for your parent.
Write it down
When possible, have your parent write down important information rather than trying to remember it. When he meets a new person, have him write it down on a notepad he has or even on a memo app on his phone as soon as he learns the name. It might be a bit awkward, but your parent will find most people are very gracious if he informs them he’s going to write down their name so he doesn’t forget it. It lets that person know they are important to him.
Say it out loud
Saying what he is physically doing will help your parent remember what he did. If he says, “I turned left at the stoplight,” it’ll help him remember his way next time. Saying “I let the dog outside,” will spark that memory that he needs to let the dog back in.
Use mnemonic tools
If your parent has a short shopping list, work with him to create an acronym out of the first initials out of each item he needs. It can be a fun game for your parent and his elder care provider when they go to the local grocery store to pick up Eggs, Pizza, Orange Juice, Lemons, and Sausage. This random list can become POLES to help them remember what the five items were when they arrive at the store.
Forgetfulness is common and often happens when we’re not quite present in the moment, making an effort to pay attention to what we need to recall. These tricks will help your parent remember those things that are important to him.