Now What? Are you forgetful?

Retiree and senior care assistant talking together

Retiree and senior care assistant talking together

Are you forgetful? Do you forget where you have left your keys, your wallet or your handbag? Do you walk into a room and forget why you went into that room? Do you remember a person’s face, know that you have met them but don’t know their name? These are memory lapses that happen to all of us from time to time. If they happen regularly then you might start thinking about being tested.  Have you ever wondered what it would feel like if you were diagnosed with either Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease? I have. My memory is something that I pride myself on. These diseases scare me. Do they scare you? Do you know someone with one or the other of these diagnoses?

I had the privilege of attending the Institute for Challenging Disorganization conference in Cleveland, Ohio earlier in September. One of the speakers, Margit Novack, gave a presentation titled: Still Someone: Working with People Who Have Memory Loss. It was a terrific talk and gave countless tips on the ways to help who are no longer as in control and adept as used to be.

Here are a few of Margit’s handy tips:

  1. Make lists – keep them short
  2. Post frequently called numbers by the phone
  3. Create detailed schedules to let the individual know exactly what’s going on during the day
  4. Include the individual in the conversation
  5. Don’t talk about them as if they aren’t there
  6. As much as possible allow them to make the decisions
  7. Speak loudly, clearly and slowly but not condescendingly
  8. If the person is telling a story don’t interrupt and don’t correct them – even if a few of the details are wrong!

Margit also told us that it’s so important for the seniors in our care (whether you are a professional organizer, a home healthcare worker, a therapist or a family member) to give the person as much control as possible. This helps to build their confidence and self-esteem. We can take a few extra minutes and make another list or explain something again or even listen to the same story again. After all, we may be there ourselves one day and will want someone helping us to be kind and respectful.

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6 Responses to “Now What? Are you forgetful?”

  1. Nacho Eguiarte Says:

    Good advices about working with the elderly. Specially because remind us that in fact they are still people. Thank you for sharing your experience with this talk Diane

    • dnqsolutions Says:

      Thank you, Nacho. Margit made the point several times that we should all remember that the elderly have wonderful and interesting information to share and should always be included.

  2. Janet Barclay Says:

    My mom used to fear losing her memory and other mental capacities more than anything. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), physical illness took her before she experienced any of that.

  3. Autumn Leopold Says:

    I know this is written for people with memory loss and maybe predominantly seniors or people with TBI. However, I as a busy working mom find all of these tips very valuable too! I have to set alarms on my phone a lot. I have to sync my schedule with my husband’s so he can remind me of things. As we get older our memory retention isn’t what it used to be! 🙂 Thanks so much for this post Diane!

  4. Sabrina Q. Says:

    Great post! I totally agree that we must allow seniors to be independent. Any system that helps them makes them feel stronger about themselves and their life. Thanks for sharing these great tips.

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