Help Loved Ones with Alzheimer's Keep the House Organized

Leah Health Guide
  • My pantry was in terrible disarray. It had spread out over three areas. My husband and I were constantly looking for things. I had made some attempt to organize the one upstairs. Finally, even I-with dementia and awful short term memory-had to admit that things had gotten out of hand.


    I was buying and re-buying repeatedly, but I didn't realize how bad it had gotten until I got the energy to try to organize my pantries. As I put like items together, an eye opening revelation occurred. I began to take an inventory of the number of each type of grocery item. At first, all seemed pretty benign. Three cans of tomatoes...then four more...then two more... You get the picture. And before long, I realized that-to say the least-I had overbought. And overbought. And overbought.

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    This is what I had:


    14 cans stewed tomatoes

    12 boxes of rice

    17 boxes (some double) of potato sides

    8 boxes of Stove Top stuffing

    15 cans of chili

    30 cans of soup


    I spoke with my older sister about what I had discovered. My sister (who usually pooh-poohs anything to do with my dementia and either is in denial about my dementia or prefers to believe I am just being melodramatic) says overbuying is a common problem among people. She's probably right to some extent-but not to the extent I had taken it. Then, my sister said it could be a compulsive disorder. Yes, in some cases it might be. But, in my case, (and she needs to face this) it is plain ol' DEMENTIA!!


    I have been making a couple of errors: First, I was not keeping my pantry areas tidy and organized. The second error was not planning my meals while I am AT home, where I can look to see what I already have on hand. When I am shopping is not the time to decide what groceries I want and need-not any more. Old habits are hard to break, and I had to organize and inventory my larder before I realized I had a problem-- an old habit which needed to be broken. And so, from this experience, I have made these changes:


    • * To keep my pantries organized with like things together
    • * To keep an inventory in the kitchen, which I will mark as items are used
    • * To use the inventory to plan meals
    • * To use the inventory to prepare the shopping list
    • * To update the inventory every few weeks on the computer
    • * To donate excess food to the food pantry for the needy


    There are other areas that this same exercise needs to be done. The most important is in the clothes area. When I change over to my spring and summer wardrobe, I will need to list what I have. From there, I can see what I need. I will also, hang clothing according to color. That also helps me to see and understand what I have.


    It is like this for everything in life as one goes through dementia. Luckily, I am still at the stage where I can recognize problems and work toward solving them. And, too, I still have a great sense of humor. 15 cans of Tuna! Oh, boy!

Published On: March 19, 2008