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We just moved my elderly friend into a retirement community. She's in the early stages of memory loss, ie unaware of it herself, but rather pronounced among her friends. She is in independent living apartment with home health checking on her 3x a day. I considering creating a laminated check list/story board if you will to remind her of where she lives, what her address is and what to do first thing in the morning. She moved in on Saturday but has been found wandering the grounds twice now.

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Thank you all for your thoughts. I'll try some simple lists and signs. We discussed with home health and we're starting 12 hours of continuous care tomorrow for a week or so hoping she can get into a routine and we might be able to back off after a couple weeks. Luckily this place does have all levels of care...that's why we moved her in...psychologically she's not ready for assisted living but we expect it's only months away. Thanks again.
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Checklists can work well, depending on the nature of the person's impairments. A short list of simple tasks worked OK to remind my husband of his morning routine while he was still able to do it himself. As his attention span became shorter and the list seemed too long for him, he needed some help anyway, and I was his "reminder list." It also helps if the person realizes they need reminders and are willing to work at following the list.

A list won't help with wandering. A nice gift might be an engraved ID bracelet. The ones I got for my husband and I had five lines -- enough room for name, address, phone numbers of contact people, medical condition, and doctor's name. These are designed for runners and bikers. I use mine whenever I go for a walk without taking my purse or wallet. In case I had a low blood sugar episode or an accident at least vital information would be immediately available. My husband did not wander, but he sometimes went places on his own, and I wanted his identification and a notice that he had dementia to go with him.

If your friend is wandering and has problems with short term memory, I hope that the retirement community she moved into also has higher levels of care beyond independent living.
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It may or may not work. I've made my mom all kinds of reminders over the past couple of years. She doesn't have dementia, just no short-term memory. She'll write herself notes and then forget that she's written them. I have a small whiteboard (less than $10) that sticks to her fridge where I put short-term reminders, like there's Taco Bell in the fridge for dinner tonight.

If she writes herself a note she'll lose it in the pile of stuff next to her chair. Or she writes is so tersely, she won't know what it means five minutes later.

Routines are extremely important for people with poor memory. My mom has a pretty good routine to take her meds (which I fix). But every so often, I'll find a dose here or there that she's missed.

I've found if I repeat something over and over over a period of days, she'll remember some of it. But it takes many repetitions. I have my phone number in big letters right next to her phone in case someone asks her, but she's probably forgotten that it's there because I don't remind her about it all of the time (she calls me with 1-touch dialing). It's an ongoing struggle.
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This is a very good idea. I use a short checklist with my mother. With mine, it works better if it is interactive. Her "checklist" is actually very simple, but important. She has to have insulin shots twice a day. I have a calendar page on the refrigerator. He makes a check mark each morning to let me know she had her insulin. Then another check mark for the evening. She never forgets to do it, so it works great. Putting the checks on the calendar also lets her see what day it is, so it orients her first thing in the morning. I put her doctor appointments on the calendar page, too, so she can see what she has to do.

The calendar page is so easy to do. I just tear the month out from one of those calendars we get as free gifts so often through the mail, then put it on the refrigerator with magnets. We're set for the month. I do not think it would work as well for her to read a list. Being able to mark a check on the page keeps her attention. I have a feeling she will remember to do this even as her memory fades.
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