Memory and Brain Category
By Marilyn Lash
Memory is one of the biggest challenges facing many survivors after a traumatic brain injury. Memory impairments can be unsettling, frustrating and stressful. Trying to recall and perform routine functions can become formidable tasks. Changes in memory can affect everything from remembering to turn off the stove to paying your bills to keeping appointments. These challenges can be the difference in being able to live independently, succeed in school or do your job.
By using compensatory strategies, the survivor, family and caregivers can address these challenges and be more productive. The following tips and strategies can be useful.
Use checklists for Memory
By posting written checklists in key locations, such as by the door or phone, at your desk, and on the bathroom mirror or refrigerator, you will have visual reminders to jog your memory. You can also record verbal checklists to listen to on a tape recorder, on your computer or your smart phone so you can replay them whenever you need a reminder
Checklists with personal care reminders for grooming and dressing can be really helpful for getting ready in the morning and getting out the door on time. These can be customized by how much detail you need. Examples are:
- Putting toiletries in plain sight
- Laying out clothing the night before
Daily life can be complicated for anyone, but it can be even more complex and stressful if you have a memory impairment after a brain injury. Some basic strategies for organizing your life are:
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- Do your laundry the same day each week.
- Make a master list of monthly bills.
- Ask for and save appointment cards.
- Use different colored inks to note different types of appointments on your calendar.
- Consult a map or program your GPS before you get in the car and leave home.
- Get reverse directions as well.
- Park in the same area every time.
- Place all ingredients on the counter before you start cooking and put them away as you use them.
- Carry a timer when you have something in the oven.
There are many aids and tool available to help individuals who have difficulty with memory. These include planners and organizers, calendars, computer programs, special applications and smart phones. Your preference may be influenced by what you feel comfortable using now and what type of reminders helped you before your injury. The key is to develop a system that works for you and your lifestyle.
It is also important that the people who are close to you are familiar with the memory strategies and reminders that you use. This includes your family members, caregivers, close friends and any others who interact with you regularly. Consistency is important so you want to be sure that everyone uses the same strategies.
Your memory may improve as your brain heals and your recovery progresses. However, many persons with moderate and severe brain injuries continue to have some challenges with memory over many years and even over their lifetime. Some final suggestions are:
- develop routines
- make lists and check them daily
- work deliberately, one step at a time
- don’t try to do everything at once
- be patient with yourself.
Marilyn Lash, M.S.W., Lash and Associates Publishing/Training, Inc. http://www.lapublishing.com Books, pamphlets and information on the treatment, rehabilitation and recovery of traumatic brain injury in children, adults and veterans. For a tip card with more information on Memory Strategies Brain Injury by Barbara Webster, go to http://www.lapublishing.com/tbi-memory-strategies/.