It’s disruptive and distressing to lose things all the time, whether from cancer-related cognitive deficits, dementia, overload with life stress, grief, or any other reason. Here are some tips to decrease the risk of losing things (from Patient Handout: Coping with Losing Things):
Slow down. Do one thing at a time.
Get rid of ALL piles and clutter.
Create habits. For items you use regularly, always put them in the same (logical) place—and don't make exceptions unless absolutely necessary.
Talk aloud to yourself when doing something unusual, e.g., “I'm putting this wrapped gift on the mantle.”
Find “memory buddies” whom you can tell where you store important items, such as a passport, and where you hide things, such as a surprise gift.
When leaving home:
Simplify. Don't take more than you need.
Use a checklist to ensure you take everything you need.
Use labels to put contact information on all outerwear, gadgets (cell phone; electronics), glasses (e.g., on hidden part of frame), and anything else you could accidentally leave somewhere.
Latch things together when possible. For example, use clips or plastic coils to attach your keys and wallet to your pocketbook or belt loop.
Count how many things you are carrying, e.g., “I have four things: keys, wallet, suitcase, coat.” Before leaving any location, such as a bus or building, STOP and do a quick count.
Leave extra time to get from one place to another. This way, you can minimize multitasking and also have time to find any misplaced items noticed during your quick count.
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