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FIRST AID FOR FORGETFULNESS

If you're a caregiver for a family member with a memory disorder like Alzheimer's disease your to-do lists are too long and the days are too short to fmish all your chores. You often misplace your car keys. You forget to buy milk, leave the sheets in the dryer for a week and can't remember the name of your family member's doctor. You start to wonder if YOUR memory is failing too!

Relax. Chances are excellent that your memory is fine. As a caregiver you're remembering for two now - yourself and your relative — so it's not surprising that your brain is overworked!

Here are ten simple memory boosters:

  1. Get enough sleep — at least eight hours every night. Adequate sleep helps your brain process, store and retrieves information.
  2. Don't go shopping without a list. You'll remember to buy the things you need and avoid items you don' t need.
  3. Keep a list of important phone numbers by the phone and add them to speed dial lists on home and cell phones. Include your relative's number, doctors, phalmacy, police, fire, EMS, hospitals and other numbers you call often.
  4. Make a to-do list every morning and prioritize each task. Cross off items as you complete them. Review the list at the end ofthe day. You might be surprised at how much you accomplished!
  5. Write down all prescription and non-prescription medications your older family member takes. Include the doctors prescribing the medicine and the phone number of the pharmacy that filled it. Bring the list with you to your relative's medical appointments. If you use the same pharmacy for all your older relation's meds ask for a list including dosage and names of doctors prescribing the drugs.
  6. Keep your house and car keys in the same handy place — on a hook or basket near the front door.
  7. If you and your family member wear non-prescription reading glasses purchase several pairs at the local dollar or discount store.
  8. Ever forget where you parked your car? The next time you park take of note buildings, trees, shops, signs and other landmarks nearby.
  9. Take a notebook or small tape recorder to medical appointments. Write down questions your relative or you have. Don't rely on your own memories to recall important information!
  10. Keep your memory and your parent's memory sharp by playing card games, scrabble, working crossword puzzles, taking a walk in a new neighborhood.

Nobody can remember everything they're supposed to. Use these suggestions to create your own memory boosters to remember the things that are most important to you and your older relative.

A version of this article appeared in the Private Health News.