Label the doors inside the house.
Individuals with memory impairment may have difficulty remembering where the
bathroom, bedroom, den, or sewing room is located in the home. Hallways with
several doors tend to be especially confusing. Pairing a picture cue with
the word cue makes it easier for the individual to locate the desired room.
Put labels on drawers, cupboards, and
cabinets to label their contents. If the individual has difficulty
understanding written words alone, pair a picture cue with the written word.
Try not to change the contents of drawers or cupboards. It is important to
keep items in the same place to help develop an association between the
object and where it is to be kept. It may be beneficial to place labels on
the tops of dressers or tables to indicate where certain items should be
returned. For example, if an individual usually keeps keys on the coffee
table in the living room, place a label on the table to help remind the
person to put the keys back in the same location after use.
Use markers on thermostats, air
conditioners, hearing aids, heating pads, electric blankets, TV channel
changers, oven dials, and so forth to indicate appropriate settings. Large,
brightly colored markers that are easily seen tend to work best. Consult
with a professional if you are unsure whether it is safe for the individual
to use certain electrical appliances.
Write out simple instructions for using
appliances and equipment or for completing activities. Keep the instructions
simple, and write them out step by step. Place the written instructions next
to the appliance/equipment. Some individuals find it easier to use a
check-list system in which they are required to check off each step as they
complete it. This helps them attend to which step they are on.
Use night lights in the house. Some
individuals with memory impairments experience more difficulty when first
waking up and may be more disoriented at night. Reflector tape placed at
intervals from the bedroom to the bathroom may also assist them in finding
their way to the bathroom at night.
Place clocks at easy viewing locations
throughout the house. This will help assist the individual in orienting to
time. If the person has difficulty reading a clock face, use digital clocks.
Large digital and face clocks that are easy to read are available (ask your
clinician for suggestions on where to purchase these clocks in your area).
Use calendars to help the individual
orient to the current date. Mark off the days on the calendar, and place a
movable marker on the current day. (Placing a brightly colored arrow next to
the current day works well.) This may help the individual in locating the
correct date and decrease frustration.
Use written schedules to help the
individual remember scheduled appointments, daily activities, medication
schedules, and so forth. If the patient is in a wheelchair, tape the
schedule on the lap tray. Memory book systems and electronic computers are
helpful for individuals functioning at higher levels. The clinicians can
assist in establishing an organized memory book system based on the
individual's needs and skill level.
Safety checklists located at the front
door may help the individual to do a "safety check" to make sure
appliances are turned off, heat/air conditioner is turned down, lights are
turned off, and so on, before leaving the house. The individual may need
training to use the checklist consistently when leaving the home.
For individuals who have difficulty
remembering the names of important people (such as relatives and
clinicians), develop a picture book containing biographical information
about each person. Periodically review the pictures, cuing the individual to
recall the information. Write down an association for the person's name and
face, and rehearse the association to enhance recall.
Placing visual cues to the environment can
help some cognitively impaired patients complete daily tasks more independently.
Calendars, emergency phone numbers, cupboard labels, and written directions are
all examples of visual cues that can be placed in the home. The clinician should
identify the problems that the patient is experiencing in the home environment
and establish visual cues to help the patient compensate for those problems.
Environmental cue stickers can be used to mark
doors, cupboards, and dressers to assist patients in locating rooms in the house
and items in the rooms. Marking doors using word and picture labels can assist
some patients with pathfinding in the home. This strategy can be especially
helpful for some patients who exhibit wandering/searching behaviors. The picture
and word label helps the patient quickly identify where each room is located.
Below are some examples of environmental
cues. You may wish to consult a speech therapist to access other pictures
if you are unable to draw your own.