Improve your memory…


Be organised

Keep things you use regularly such as keys and glasses in the same place. Use an organiser, daily planner or calendar to keep track of forthcoming events and appointments and check this every day.

Pay extra attention

Focus on what you want to remember for 5-10 seconds (longer if possible) without thinking or doing other things. New memories take time to form. This process will take longer if you take antiepileptic drugs. Pay particular attention when you put objects down and make a mental note of where you have placed them (for example glasses by the computer; keys on the dining room table; mobile phone on the kitchen side).

Write things down

Do not hold too much information in your head. Record important phone numbers and addresses in writing; make bullet point summaries from meetings and conversations; keep a ‘to do’ list and check and update regularly.

Make things visual

Colourful, dramatic and silly images result in stronger memories. A BBC survey found six in 10 people said that forming visual images improved their memories.

Make things meaningful

Connect things to what you know and to existing memories. For example, base your pin number on an important date such as your son’s birthday so that 15 May becomes 1505. Turn computer passwords into sentences using the first letter of each word: My address is 23 Acacia Avenue becomes Mai23AA.

Use a tablet dispenser

Pill boxes are inexpensive and many now come with electronic alarm settings. Using a pill box will prevent underdosing and overdosing.

Keep a diary

Lost memories for events such as holidays and family celebrations can be distressing. Keeping a diary is a positive step. Just a few notes at the end of the day are all that may be needed, perhaps with a few photos for key events. Pictures may help cue forgotten memories. Many talented people keep diaries. You will be in good company.

Use a mobile phone

Mobile phones have many useful features such as a diary, to-do lists, alarm features, camera, satellite navigation. Phones can be programmed to receive text message reminders for clinic appointments. Do not be intimidated by technology.

Take time to learn functions

Inexperienced users could enlist a mobile phone buddy to provide lessons and ongoing support.

Think flexibly

Don’t panic if you can’t think of a word as this will make things worse. Take time to think – searching through the alphabet may be helpful. Try and think of a similar word or phrase. Improve your confidence with words by doing word games (crosswords, word searches and word association games). Stay calm and try to get a good night’s sleep Stress and tiredness will make it much harder to learn new things, form new memories and find old memories. Research also shows that a poor night’s sleep can disrupt memories formed earlier in the day.