Tips for Dealing with "Losing Things" All the Time

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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