After I was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Disorder (MCI), my husband and I attended a Mayo Clinic program called HABIT (Health Action to Benefit Independence & Thinking). It is a ten day program that helps people with MCI stay as active as possible for as long as possible. It also helps the participant and their partner develop skills and strategies to work on together in order to share a full, rich life for as long as possible.
One of the key components of the program is the use of a daily and monthly calendar/journal system which I have found to be an extremely useful—no, I’ll say a vital—tool in helping me cope with my memory issues.
I always keep my calendar within easy reach. At home it’s on my kitchen desk. When I’m away from home, it’s small enough to fit into my purse or a pants or jacket pocket. I use the calendar of course, to keep track of appointments, but I also make notations in it, such as:
- names of new people I’ve met
- grocery items
- book suggestions
- interesting stories I’ve heard on NPR that I want to share with Keith
- people I want to stay in touch with regarding a certain topic we’ve shared
- topics for blog posts
- chores that need to be done
- plants I want to include in my flower bed next season
- many things that may seem trivial to others but are any pieces of information I feel I’m likely to forget
Additionally, I coordinate my calendar with Keith—which is crucial, especially since Keith is my primary source of transportationand of course my primary care giver. Also since Keith is still working and has more hard sheduled events and commitments than I do it’s necessary that I don’t schedule without checking first. While I rely heavilyt on my calendar Keith is usually the one who keeps me on task, “We need to sit down and make sure our calendars are up to date.”
The children also know the importance of my calendar and keep me informed of the grandchildren’s activities and events, family travel plans, or any event which might impact me, or are those ‘pieces’ that often go in and then right out of my memory bank.
Keeping such an extensive calendar, and having it with me all the time, has eased my anxiety and reduced my stress greatly. For one, once something is written down I can then ‘let it go’ knowing I can easily retrieve the information later. Additionally it is an aide that allows me to ‘go back’ and retrive information without having to ask someone for help. For instance I often have difficulty remembering the time of my yoga classes as they change about every three months. In the past I would have had to ask again and again to verify the change. Now I can just look back on my calendar and find it out myself which gives me a small sense of indepence and competency.
And any time I can ‘do something myself’ feels really good.