Sequencing, or putting items in the correct order, becomes more difficult toward the end of the early stage of dementia. This is becomes most obvious with “newer” tasks like operating the microwave, and less obvious with highly familiar tasks like brushing teeth. Most frequently, a step may be omitted all together- like forgetting to use toothpaste or rinse out the mouth during the oral care.
Sequencing errors are best prevented by arranging items in a left to right order. If a caregiver is already in the habit of getting out clothes for a memory impaired person, it’s best to lay the items out from left to right. Same goes for placing the toothbrushing items in plain view- in left to right order of toothbrush, toothpaste, cup…
Activities that promote sequencing and organizational planning (generally found in the frontal/temporal lobes of the brain) are important to incorporate into daily life. Following written instructions for addressing an envelope, following a recipe, or stringing beads for jewelry in a particular pattern are good examples.
Remember that strategies that you introduce now have a better chance of “sticking” down the road when the dementia progresses into the middle stages. Consistent procedures are best to lay down new motor memory.