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Family enjoying photo album
Short term memory impairment creates unique challenges.
Helpful hints:
  1. Do not disrupt the environment if at all possible.  Doing so will cause extra stress for everyone. For example, you take the high value jewelry to the safety deposit box for safe keeping.  Later that day and subsequent days you get repeated calls claiming the jewelry was stolen. 
  2. Sorting sessions should be short and take place late morning through early afternoon. Working late afternoon or into the evening is difficult for many with memory impairment.  More behavioral issues tend to occur late afternoon and into the evening.
  3. Expect repeat questions.  This is common.  Respond to the emotion not the question content.  e.g.  Mom, you seem worried about the china.  We'll send it to your granddaughter.
  4. Familiarity is most important.  Select decorations with long term memory cues in mind. In general, older pictures are better than newer ones.  Take activities of the past, even if they no longer are able to participate.  e.g. Take Dad's playing cards, even if he no longer plays.
  5. Assisted living communities often require residents' names to be on their clothing, linens, towels, etc.  Use labels or permanent fabric marker.
  6. Nutrition, hydration and adequate sleep are very important.  Failure to eat and sleep will add to the stress.
  7. Expect more memory issues after the move.  Often things will improve after a short period of time.
  8. Packing too far in advance is an invitation for the individual in transition to unpack what was packed.  Packing as close to the move as possible is preferred.  Ideal is to pack, move and unpack in the same day.  This is not always feasible.
  9. Remember when selecting things to bring: function, familiarity and safety are more important than aesthetics.
  10. Assisted living communities generally prohibit throw rugs and appliances that create heat.  This includes coffee pots, toasters, irons and more.
  11. Repeated mundane tasks such as shredding may make the individual with memory issues feel included and productive.  Sometimes this is the solution to their anxiety.
  12. If possible, have someone keep the person in transition occupied, away from the move activity, until the move is complete.
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