Simple Memory Aids for the Elderly

Many elderly people fit the stereotype of being forgetful. It’s a normal and natural part of getting older. However, there are various strategies and approaches we can take to help with the memory needs of the elderlies. From our nursing homes in Raleigh, we have experience of using a range of different memory aids for residents.

Before we look at the specifics, you need to understand that what works for one may not work for another. We’re all different, but these are general memory aids for the senior that we have generally found to be helpful. You may find that you build a repertoire of your favourite methods, or adapt one to suit.

What Do You Need?

To do this, you need to first identify what the problem is. For example, is remembering the day a problem? Or perhaps remembering your usual routine?

Identify the problem and rate how important it is will help you find the best solution. The strategies that prove most successful are often ones based on familiar processes and use existing skills. Then practice the strategies you put in place.

Memory Aids for Elderly People

Below are some suggestions that we’ve found to be most successful when caring for people at our nursing homes in Raleigh and elsewhere in Devon and Somerset.

  • Calendars: For elderly people who don’t have the routine of work, days can easily roll into each other and pose memory problems. Using a calendar, date displaying clock, or diary can help them pinpoint where they are in time. Calendars can also help by diarising the unusual things that need to be remembered – for example, a doctor’s appointment.
  • Follow the news: Whether relying on print versions, radio or TV, following the news can cement dates and the passage of time.
  • Lists: Many memory problems stem from trying to remember too many things or complex instructions. By using lists, and ticking things off, the mental load of remembering is removed. The same applies to daily routines. If an elderly person frequently forgets part of their morning routine, taking medication for example, write a list of the order in which they do things. Lists are memory aids can be hugely diverse from a shopping list to a weekly plan.
  • Positioning of information: Much about memory is about being able to access the right information in the right place and at the right time. Therefore, put the information where it will be needed. For example, put the shopping list next to a handbag, or put telephone numbers next to the phone. This can also work by using sticky notes stuck in the relevant place.
  • Manage medication: We know from experience that medication is often a tricky candidate for memory. Regular medication is often harder to remember, whether you’ve taken it or not, compared to irregular medication. For this reason, daily pill dispensers make it easier to see whether you’ve taken today’s pills or not. These are easily available at pharmacies and indeed pharmacists will often put the tablets in the right compartments for you.
  • Use colour and pictures: Depending on your preferences, colours and pictorial reminders can help. For example, if remembering which kitchen cupboard houses what, you can stick up pictures, or use different colour key fobs.
  • Routines: Routine itself can often act as a very powerful memory aid. It’s likely one of the reasons that elderly people become very reliant on their routines. By having a concrete pattern to the day, they are able to anchor their memory.
  • Timers and apps: For the more technologically savvy, there are plenty of apps which will help with everything from making lists to ‘nudging’ alarms. Simple timers can also be set for the time when something is needed. For example, if you struggle to remember your lunchtime medication, set an alarm for midday when you take your morning pills. Mobile phones can double up as a memory aid in many different ways such as keeping track of your calendar, and you can set associated reminders.
  • Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness can improve focus, and in turn, memory. By taking some time each day to practice mindfulness, it becomes a memory aid and you can boost your memory.
  • Trackers: More for solving the problems that poor memory brings than preventing the problem in the first place, GPS trackers and locator devices can be cheaply and easily placed on the objects you most frequently use, for example, the remote control for the television.

There are also a variety of products on the market sold as memory aids for the elderly. What is most important is that you discover which memory aids work best for you. Often these are the simplest and ‘homemade’ solutions. At our Raleigh Mead care home, we are experts in memory aids through our outstanding dementia care. Alongside these simple use-at-home strategies, we use a range of techniques to reduce the negative impact of failing memory. To see for yourself call us on 01769 572510.