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Improving Your Memory

Friday, July 17, 2020

People living with epilepsy are often impacted by memory difficulties but there are some techniques and/or aids that can be brought into play to ameliorate these.

Tips for Remembering

  • Follow a set routine
  • Adapt your surroundings
  • Use external memory aids
  • Use mnemonics
  • Improve general well-being

Follow a Set Routine

Following a routine is vitally important to improving your memory. Having a routine allows you to know what to expect, which helps reduce the demands placed on your memory. Many people find it useful to make a note of regular activities in their diary or on a calendar or in their cell phone/tablet. In addition, always doing things at the same time each day (e.g. always taking meds with breakfast) can help.

Adapt Your Surroundings

By adapting your surroundings, you will have less need to use your memory and therefore reduce the difficulties you can experience. Here are some methods you can try:

  • Keep a note pad handy to take messages
  • Use a notice board for important information
  • Choose a specific place (e.g. on a table near the door or on one end of a kitchen counter) in which to keep things such as keys and glasses, and make a habit of always putting them there
  • Label cupboards to remind you what does in them

Using External Memory Aids

A wide range of external memory aids are available to us. The most important thing is to choose something you’re comfortable using – what suits one person may not suit another. Some people might find pictures or diagrams useful whereas others might prefer written lists. Here are some examples:

Diary/CalendarSmartphone with alarm
NotebookSmartphone app
Lists (e.g. shopping lists)Wall chart or small whiteboard
Alarm clock or timerTape recorder or digital voice recorder
Post-It NotesPill reminder box for meds
Photo album or memory book 

Getting accustomed to a new memory aid can be demanding and it may take you a little while, but the more you use it, the easier it will be to incorporate into your everyday life until it seems like second nature.

Mnemonics

This is a verbal or visual aid that helps us remember information, usually in the form of sayings, rhymes, or pictures. As an example, to remember the colours of the rainbow some people use this rhyme:

Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain

Red – Orange – Yellow – Green – Blue – Indigo – Violet

Some find that visually pairing items can be helpful; one such method is the peg method. ‘Pegs’ are used to help you remember a list of items. Each number is given a rhyming visual cue – ‘one/bun, two/shoe, three/tree, four/door’ and so on. To use this method, you visualize the first item you want to remember and associate it with a ‘bun’, and the second item with a ‘shoe’. Other people try to remember information in the form of a story they’ve made up. The best thing is to be imaginative and make up ones that are personally relevant and work for you.

Combining a Variety of Methods to Enhance Memory

It’s a good idea to use several aids or methods so that if one method fails, you still have a back-up. Noting an appointment on a calendar and also using a cell phone alarm reminder is one example. It can take time to establish a memory system but, once it has been set up and used regularly, it can be very effective.

What memory aids have you found to be most effective?

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