Organization Strengthens Your Mind September 30, 2014
This column is from an advertisement for a memory enhancing supplement I received. I feel it is so worthwhile I am passing it along to you. Everyone can benefit from becoming better organized.
When a loved one starts to experience cognitive decline, every task required to get through the day becomes increasingly difficult. With these difficulties, comes frustration, anger, sadness and a number of other emotions. By understanding the feelings associated with the loss of certain levels of control over one’s self and environment, it is easier to make the changes necessary to get through the day.
Adding some structure can make a BIG difference! Organizing the day, week, or month will help those with memory impairment to be and feel successful. The first step is identifying the best way to begin putting things in order. As you plan consider that there have been a number of studies on “right brain” versus “left brain” and how dominance of one side over the other determines how people see things visually, and therefore, how they would organize to meet their personal preferences.
Beth Randall, owner of JOE ORGANIZER, and a professional organizer, provides some great examples. She states that “right-brain thinkers are more visually oriented…they want to see their things, and have them in sight. They tend to be more creative and think in images.” Whereas “left-brain thinkers are more logical and analytical, they like lists and planning in advance.” When she helps organize, she looks at these tendencies, and creates her plan. Her one basic rule, important for anyone looking to improve their lives through organization, is to, “have a place and a process for everything in your home…get into the habit of putting things back where you have defined that they go right when you are through with them, or right when you walk in the door…Have a place for everything.”
When it comes to structure and the aging or declining brain, it is also important to de-clutter and stay organized. As there are no methods to completely prevent cognitive decline, however, putting strategies in place and “training your brain” to do them daily will both make the day easier, and keep the brain active. Many caregivers understand that any effort to organize the world around the ones they care for will help. Getting them involved in the changes as much as possible will help too! They should have a say in planning their day whenever they can. Have them sit with you as you write out their daily or weekly schedule on a white board or calendar that they can see easily. Make sure appointments, transportation details, and contact information is clearly visible.
In addition to planning their time, it is a great idea to make some decorating changes. Keep in mind the way they like things, keeping important items easy to reach and find, as Beth Randall suggests. Have your loved one play a role, challenge their brains by making decisions on how colors go together, how photos can be arranged on the wall, and even how furniture might be moved to provide more space for easier navigation.
To further improve cognitive functioning for yourself or someone else you know who is showing signs of memory loss,