What was I going to do?
Like many people, as I get older my memory is not as sharp as it once was. But when our memory changes because of a brain injury it is sudden, and it can be frightening and overwhelming. It isn’t only the people with the injury that their impaired memory affects, but those around them too.
An injury can affect how the parts of our brain that are linked to memory work and it can change the way our brain receives, interprets and stores information – which is how we remember things. An injury can also affect the way our brain can recall and retrieve our memories and the pieces of information we have stored, even how it puts pieces of information together.
Here are some strategies that may help work around memory problems:
Removing distractions before starting on something that you need to remember.
Asking people to talk slower or repeat what they said to make sure you have understood.
Repeating back to someone what you have understood, to help reinforce the information you have been given.
Giving yourself extra time to practice, repeat, or rehearse some information you need to remember.
Writing a grocery list in a note book, so as well as giving you something to read off when you go to the shops it also becomes a record of what you have bought from week to week, and helps you track the things you use most often.
Setting up a memory station at home, which can be a table by the door where you keep all the items that you’ll need to take with you when you go out (e.g. wallet, keys, hat and gloves), or a special section of a cupboard in the kitchen where your favourite drink or snack is kept.
Organising things around your house so that their order helps remind you of the steps you need to take when you’re doing things. For example arranging things out on the work top so when you want to make a drink you know you need a mug, followed by a tea bag and sugar, then milk ; or placing a breakfast bowl, a lunch plate and a dinner plate out on the work top in the morning so you know that when the breakfast bowl is missing it is because you’ve already had your breakfast.
If you don’t already have a blister pack from your chemist with your daily tablets in, you may want to arrange one. If not, you can buy boxes to use yourself at home. These help you remember what needs to be taken at what time of the day.
When you have a number of steps to do to finish a task, write them all down and then you can tick them off as you complete them. For example, you might make a checklist of what you need to do to pay a bill; or a checklist of what you need to do to grow your favourite vegetables from seed; or the different steps and timeline for each step when you are making a PIP application so that you know .
Having memory problems after ABI may also make it harder for you to to remember to use some of these strategies. In the early days, having a family member, friend of Support Worker to remind you can help. Over time the strategies may become a habit and you’ll be able to use them on your own.