Patient and Family Education

Helpful Tips & Tools
Text size: A A A

1. Use it or lose it! Memory is improved through practice. Doing puzzles, reading, active conversation, visual imagery, writing, learning something new all serve to strengthen memory. Think of memory as a mental muscle; exercise it!

2. Focus. Memory is enhanced when we are relaxed and focused. Depression, worry, and anxiety make our memory worse. To focus well, relax and attend. Forgetfulness is often caused by poor attention.

3. Limit distractions. Memory is improved when distracting sensory and cognitive stimuli are removed. To learn something new or to strengthen a memory, find a quiet place, eliminate extraneous noise, and focus.

4. Use your senses! Memories are better recalled when we associate smell, vision, hearing or touch with them. If you are having trouble remembering where you put your keys, regularly put them next to a strong air-freshener. To remember where you put your glasses, practice visualizing or "seeing" them on a table.

5. Use emotion constructively. Memories tend to be strengthened when we associate them to emotion. Use strong positive emotions, or positive experiences to remember.

6. Organize. Create an organizational scheme. Keep a note "reminder" pad (only one at a time!) to write down important information. Keep a calendar. Place things that are used together in one place.

7. Use labels. For many people, creating a special word can trigger memory. To remember to buy these items at the grocery store: bread, apples, tissues, use the word "B-A-T".

8. Interaction. The more you can make connections and associations, the better your memory. To remember a doctor's appointment, write down the date in your special notebook and draw a little picture that may remind you of what kind of an appointment it is ("eye" for eye doctor).

9. Use humor! Compose a humorous song, phrase or image to remember. Humor also lowers anxiety, and makes us feel good.