How to Use Labels to Help Someone With Dementia

Don't underestimate the power of a simple label. You might feel silly labeling drawers and shelves with words as obvious as plates or socks. But visual aids like these help your loved one put things away in their proper places -- and find them later. Labels minimize hesitation and confusion.

Some tips:

  • Be specific without being overly detailed. "Cooking tools" is great, but there's no need to list every single item in a drawer of miscellaneous kitchenware.

  • Ink on masking tape works well on most surfaces and is easy to remove later.

  • When reading becomes difficult, try using pictures of plates or socks.

  • Expect this to be only a temporary aid; eventually it may become too difficult for your loved one to translate the label, whether it's in words or pictures.


over 3 years ago, said...

My husband bought a label maker so I think he feels he is going to need to label things for his/our use. Thanks.


about 5 years ago, said...

you are so right frena...we do not challenge my Dad on anything...prompt him yes..ie" Dad it is Tuesday and we do your laundry on Tuesday..so lets have a shower and change your clothes..then when he is in the shower..we check the drawers and closet for dirty clothes he has put away or hung back up..when he lived on his own, we labeled food, only problem we had with that, is that he ate 6 meals in one day :(..now in a Retirement home that feeds him 3 times a day..cleans his apt. gives his meds ( which how anyone will ever know if they are working is beyond me)..and one of us..there are 3 daughters..goes to see him everyday..I wish I could get the grandsons to go see him, they are in a grief period I believe, the grand dad that taught them how to golf, went to all their hockey games and was a true mentor is gone...what they do not realize is that, once a month when we take him home, is not enough for him to remember them in the coming months/years...any suggestions?


about 5 years ago, said...

My Dad seems just not to read the notes and labels...we leave them on everything and he just seems to ignore them...good tip, but it does not work for us..thanks


about 5 years ago, said...

You know what I do, to help hubby know what day it is I put a nice colourful sticker (butterflies this month) on the date we have just had, it may not help him much, but is sure looks pretty. I have a wee code to my self, if they are upside down been a forgetful day, if they are at the bottom of the square, I have had a down day, if they are at the top have had a good day.


over 5 years ago, said...

Thank you, I used colour dots to help with which knob for which heating point -- red to red, blue to blue. The same with the washing machine.


over 5 years ago, said...

great idea's and will pass them along. we had support group tonight, sometimes that is our sanity....God bless you all!


over 5 years ago, said...

oh bubie, your Mom's love and humor is part of the best of her. that other stuff -- it's just brain computer data. it gets lost, the heart and the spirit -- never! Bless you!


over 5 years ago, said...

I work as a caregiver and I see an elderly couple who don't always eat right when I'm not there. So what I did was make up small meals in those lunchmeat containers and then label what is inside with white masking tape and black marker. It really helps and I don't worry so much when I'm not there on the weekends.


over 5 years ago, said...

Good tip. I personally like to tag things at home, or label them. other reason than the fact that i like it, is when my friend visits, and stays i dont need to explain. and as far as dementia is concerned, placing things appropriately in place is another question, I wonder if they really remember to put things back in place?


over 5 years ago, said...

thank you for the suggestions and learning everyday that a part of my mom is disappearing. Although thankful for her humor and love. again thanks


over 5 years ago, said...

good article. dementia is more variable than most people imagine, though. some people lose the power to comprehend what they read as one of their earliest symptoms (doctors might now classify that as frontotemporal lobe dementia, since that can be an early identification). the best thing for caregivers to do is to pay attention to exactly what helps. if labels don't help, stop them at once. don't think you'll "train" your person -- because you won't be able to, because your person is already disabled in that way and can't change back. always take your cues from your person and never fight dementia itself.