After a traumatic brain injury or stroke, you may have difficulty with memory. Here are some memory strategies you can implement!
Internal Memory Strategies
Internal memory strategies help you recall information by using tricks in your mind.
- Repetition: Verbally or mentally repeat what you are trying to recall (e.g., repeat what you are going to the other room to get until you have that item in your hand)
- Chunking: Group information into smaller pieces to help you remember (e.g., phone numbers, social security number)
- Categorization: Organize information by categories (e.g., recall items you need from the grocery store in groups like fruits/vegetables, dairy, meat, freezer, etc.)
- Association: Recalling new information by associating it with something you already know (e.g., Remembering someone’s name because it’s the same as your father’s)
- Anchor Points/Landmarks: Remember events/dates by using ones you already know(e.g., remembering your friend’s birthday is a week before your mother’s birthday)
- Saliency: Focus on the most important details first
- Verification: Verbally repeat information back to the speaker to verify it.
- Imagery: Create a mental picture of the information (e.g., make a mental map, imagine items you need from the grocery store in your head.
- Mnemonics: Create a word with the first letter of each item you are trying to remember (e.g., BEAM to recall you need bread, eggs, apples, and milk from the store)
- Story: Form a sentence with the first letter of the words you are trying to remember (e.g., using “My Very Excited Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas” to remember the order of the planets – Mars, Venus, Earth, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto)
External Memory Strategies
External memory strategies help you recall information with auditory and/or visual cues.
- Routines: Develop consistent habits (e.g., make a habit of taking your medication when you brush your teeth, have a routine when leaving the house to help your remember to take your keys, wallet, and phone)
- Environmental Placement: Give items a “home”. Leave them somewhere easy to see if you often forget them. (e.g., leave your keys and wallet on the table by the front door, leave your medication near your toothbrush)
- Lists/Notes: Make lists or take notes on paper or on the note taking app on your phone (e.g., to-do lists, shopping lists, notes during a meeting)
- Calendar: Write appointments and events. You can use a paper calendar that can travel with you or your phone.
- Alarms/Reminders: Set alarms and reminders on your phone for time sensitive things. Snooze your alarm, don’t turn it off, until the task is completed. You can name the alarm to recall what the alarm is for.
The following are some apps that may be helpful external memory strategies or may help improve your internal memory.
- Color Notes: gives notes colors, sets reminders, alphabetizes
- DeskNotes: lets you place a “sticky note” on a screen
- Evernote: note taking program; can download to iPhone, iPad, Android phone, computer, etc. to sync
- Calendar Snooze: makes LOUD reminders for calendar, vibrates, etc.
- Pill Reminders
- Songify: makes anything you say into a song; helpful for getting information into long term memory
- Speed Brain: Lumosity app for all smart phones for memory and attention
- Memory Trainer: many levels and games; helps with memory of patterns & numbers; has graph to track progress
- Brain Trainer: visual memory, spatial memory and reaction time
- Classic Simon: classic 80’s game; improves memory for patterns
- Brain Age Test: short term memory; will track your progress for you
If you are having difficulty attending during a conversation or to what you’re doing, it may also lead to difficulty with memory. Check out our blog post on attention and mindfulness meditation for more tips!