Regularly Losing Track of Things

Losing track of things may be a warning sign of Alzheimer's disease

As we rush around the house in the morning getting ready for work the cry goes out, “where are my keys? I’m sure I put them on the dresser last night!” You scramble around and eventually find them on the kitchen bench where you’d put them the night before in a state of sleepiness. The difference is you find them and only chastise yourself for temporarily forgetting where you’d put them. We all forget where we’ve put things from time to time, but can usually retrace our steps to eventually remember where we left the item in question.

When losing track of things becomes a regular or even daily occurrence and you have to write notes to yourself about where you’ve put something, it may be time to go and chat with your healthcare professional.

When our short-term memory is affected and we are no longer able to easily create new memories, experiencing any of the following examples could potentially be an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s:

  • Losing something and then drawing a complete blank on when you last used or saw the item, and hours later still not recovering the memory
  • Becoming paranoid that people, even trusted family and friends, have stolen an item that has been misplaced
  • Putting things into completely inappropriate places, like slippers in the deep freeze rather than the wardrobe.

Mum was one of those people who always had many things on the go at any one time. She was an incredibly talented musician and teacher who both worked in a school, as well as in her own musical practice at home, while raising her family of two girls. Mum and Dad were the most reliable people I’ve ever known. If you asked either one of them to do something, you would know it would get done – just secretly, it’s my biggest pet hate when someone says they are going to do something and then doesn’t carry it through; unless of course there is a perfectly legitimate reason for it!

Mum was always on top of things despite having a very full working and social life. Then I began to notice a change.  Mum kept losing things related to her teaching business and would spend hours scrabbling through the filing cabinet where she kept all her student records trying to find things. We later realised that she was just aimlessly moving paperwork from one place to another as the filing cabinet was in complete disarray.

We tried to help with the administration side of things, but Mum kept losing her record of the hours she had taught each pupil, or the music she had bought for them and needed to be reimbursed for. Mum had no idea that she had already bought multiple copies of a particular piece of music, so she would go out and buy another copy, lose that one and then buy another … Only years later, when I was sorting through boxes and boxes of Mum’s music, did I find the full extent of it. Mum had so many multiple copies of things that she could have opened a music shop!