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Does structure help you navigate daily life?
Posted: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 8:04 PM
Joined: 7/14/2012
Posts: 55

I'm discovering that if left to my own I often get nothing done.  Partly because I will start to do something and then forget what I'm doing, why I'm doing it, or I'll think I did it when I didn't.  Or I'm overwhelmed by too many choices, like looking in the fridge and trying to decide what to cook.  Or if there are several tasks to be done, I will dither over where to start until I forget what I was trying to decide to do or I forget entirely what I started out to do.


To counteract this I've been trying to enlist the help of my son, by getting him to tell me what he wants for dinner, by trying to organize the fridge so I can see things more easily, at a glance, and not have to dig; so that things aren't hidden behind other things, etc.  I try to maintain a list on the fridge of what's in it.  I need to start putting the date of when I get things as well, otherwise I have no idea what needs to be used first. And sometimes I can be looking right AT something and not see it 'til I call my son and he points it out for me.  Then I feel even dumber.


Basically I can't remember what needs to be done, or if I do manage to make it far down the hall to actually get started on something, I'm simply overwhelmed by the number of different decisions I have to make.  Lately, even sorting the laundry seems like a hurdle to me, which is just stupid.  I have to repeat to myself while I'm doing it which pile I'm going to put the item in or I at times forget what I'm doing with it between picking it up and dropping it in the right pile - pause - reconnoiter - figure out whether I was taking it OUT of that pile or putting it IN.  I feel ridiculous.


I've tried calendars and notes and things and they haven't helped much.  I can usually remember to TAKE my meds (and the med minder helps me keep track of what day it is since I have to check the computer or ask my son at least once a day to make sure whether I have or have not yet taken my meds) but I usually can't remember to REFILL the med minder - which means I may miss several days worth of meds until I do remember to fill it.  My son has to remind me even to drink water, efforts to remember to get a glass of water on my own haven't worked out that well for me.  And sometimes I still forget to take the meds, usually at least once a week, and sometimes as often as 3 times out of the week I may forget them.  They're right there on the bathroom counter, it's like I look right at it and don't see it.


But the worst, or the thing that bothers me most, is that feeling of being overwhelmed by too many decisions to make (say - one or two) even when I do remember to try to get something done.  


Also, I feel like having things to do on a regular basis, like go to physical therapy or being able to attend sangha meetings regularly, would help to anchor me in time - but I can't get around as I have no transportation and ongoing problems with getting access to the bus for the disabled - I don't have any hope of getting that problem resolved anytime soon, it's been going on for almost a year, so I almost never get out of the house for ANYTHING.



Does anybody here find that having an externally reinforced schedule or other structure helps you to get things done?  Helps you feel more anchored and in touch?


Going through this lately it makes me wonder if the "apathy" they talk about in relationship to Alzheimers and other cognitive impairments is actually true "apathy", or more this inability to maintain focus and remember the point of what you're doing and the feeling of being overwhelmed by very minor decision making.


What, if anything, have you guys found to be helpful?

Posted: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 5:44 AM
Joined: 4/19/2012
Posts: 83


Structure is essential for anything productive to get done. Have you considered how ADD/ADHD plays into how you are performimg? I was always an excellant multi-tasker. Not hyper, I actually finished what I started. I was good at what I did.

When this disease started the hyper thinking did too. Through the cognative training I was able to get it under control without medication. I learned to clear my rambling thoughts with various tools...lists, alarms and reading.

By the length of your posts I can see you have alot rambling around in your head.

Take a breath and exhale what you don't need.


To be honest, the long posts take alot of concentration which can be of short supply.You are very eloquent and interesting.


My counselor firmly told me to do only 3 things in a day. One big and 2 small.

Yes, all those things you talk about are typical. Try to have one home base that you go to for all your focus. Keep it simple. A notebook for lists and instructions, alarm central, med central and a chair to sit and clear your head.

I keep a calendar with large tasks written down...refill meds, call for refills, etc. I have inventory lists on the fridge and freezer. I have drinks ready in the front of the fridge with lunch next to it.


I do everything on a schedule because I can't tell how many days gave gone by.


Slow down and drop what isn't essential. As you feel more in control add one activity at a time

Mimi S.
Posted: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 10:01 AM
Joined: 11/29/2011
Posts: 7027

Hi Zen,

 You have many issues that would benefit from a one-on-one talk.

Please call the help line 1-800-272-3900 and talk with the person who answers.

You can purchase clocks with the day of the week in large print. if you can't find one locally, check the Alzheimer's store. Possibly one of our readers will know where.

You may need to upgrade your medicine container to one that will automatically remind you when it's pill time and then phone someone else if you don't take it. I've read about them, but don't have one yet. Again, other readers may have some advice. That son who helps so much should be in charge of filling the container.

Routine, routine, routine!!!  So important. 

Do keep in touch.

Iris L.
Posted: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 11:02 AM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 18713

In addition to structure and routine being very important for people with memory and cognitive impairments, I find that simplification and preparing in advance are very helpful. 

As Rebecca said, get rid of anything that is nonessential.  Get rid of duplicates, or at least put them away from your main area.  For example, I got rid of all but one tube of toothpaste and one toothbrush.  I se one dish, one cup, one glass, one set of flatware.  Too many will quickly overwhelm me.

Another thing I do is set up myself for the next day.  I put out my morning medications in a cup, I set out the clothing I want to wear, I set out my tea and cereal for breakfast, and I set out the cat food.  So when I get up, I don't have to search around for anything.  This helps me a great deal, because in the past I got easily distracted looking for things in the cabinets, dresser and closet.

Iris L.