If you have always prided yourself on having an excellent memory, chances are you don’t make a shopping list or put that weekend dinner with a friend on a calendar. You simply expect to remember things.

But with all the changes in your normal routine that have happened in the past few months, you might be finding that you are having a bit more trouble with recall. Think of it that now you have been staying at home and decluttered your house, that maybe it is time to declutter that wonderful brain of yours too. Move all that clutter out of your brain and free up some space. Some people are reluctant to use lists, schedules, alarms and phone apps because they think it will make their brains lazy. But that’s not true! Using memory aids can, in fact, help reduce the stress and annoyance that inevitably come from being distracted… and with some age-related memory errors.

These changes happen to everyone—including people who never develop Alzheimer’s disease or other serious memory disorders. What’s interesting, though, is that people who use memory aids handle those little memory glitches more easily.

Try a little help for your memory:

• Keep a notebook or app. Get a small notebook that you can slip into a pocket or use a phone app to jot down lists…questions for your accountant…or information you get at an appointment or meeting.

• Rely on technology. Use the calendar on your smartphone to ask for alerts a day, an hour or a few minutes before an appointment or phone call. When you set up an appointment, be sure to include the list of things you need to have ready or to bring with you. If you want to remember to do something, send yourself an email with a to-do reminder or create a calendar event.

• Your phone’s camera is a memory aid, too—use it to take a picture of the Parking Lot level & space before walking away from your car. Or a picture of the new restaurant you want to try.
• Create a memory table (or bowl or basket). This is where you toss your keys when you walk in the door—and find them when you go out again. It’s also a good spot for the bills you want to mail in the morning. Or taking that clean mask out to put in your car.

• If you have room, the space above your memory table or basket is ideal for a whiteboard or chalkboard, where you can leave messages for other household members—or for yourself.

• Use sticky notes. The beauty of these little slips of paper is that you can put them anywhere and move them as needed. Whenever you have an errand to run or a task that needs to be done on a certain day, place a sticky note in a visible spot as a reminder. If the sticky note doesn’t attach to the surface you’re using, tape it to the door so that you’ll see it when you’re leaving your house.

To get the greatest benefit from memory aids, follow these rules…

Rule #1: Don’t delay. When you make an appointment, write or type it into your calendar immediately. When the alarm goes off, take care of the task right away.

Rule #2: Keep it simple. Have one calendar, not four.

Rule #3: Make it routine. When you use your memory aids all the time, they become automatic and easier to use—even when you get tired, distracted or rushed.