Dementia Expert

Organizing to Handle Mild Memory Impairment


In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, you can relieve some of the frustrations that result from mild memory impairment with simple planning and organization.

Create small systems that cut down the number of lost or misplaced items – your life will be calmer and your parent will be happier. Here are some examples.

  • If your parent forgets which apartment door or bedroom door is the right one, make it stand out. AD can affect vision, so use a large decoration with a strong contrasting color, and make sure that it is well lit. Use a pretty wreath, a dried floral arrangement, an unusual doorknocker, a picture of the room’s occupant, or their name in large,  easy-to-read letters.
  • Post a calendar in a prominent place for appointments, birthdays, and other dates to remind your parent of important occasions and give a sense of control.
  • Place a sign on the inside of the front door reading ‘Lock this door’ or ‘DON’T lock this door’ to help remind your parent.
  • Install a telephone with large, lighted numbers, programmed so your parent can press a photo of the person to call. Your local Alzheimer’s organization and telephone equipment company can locate specialist equipment.
  • For more severely impaired parents, label photos with identifying notes – “Norm and me in Acapulco”, “My friend Helen”, “My grandchildren Derek, Kim, and Tommy”.
  • Place a basket in plain view for parents to drop keys, eyeglasses, and loose change in the same spot every day to reduce misplacing of common items. Put a sign on the basket – ‘keys, eyeglasses, and change’.
  • Keep a notepad by the telephone and another in the kitchen. Put a title on the pad – ‘Things to Do’ or ‘Grocery List’ –  to give your parent a clue to the pad’s use. Write in large, dark type – black ink on white paper is the best contrast.

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