Friday, 7 October 2016

Tips for Helping with Memory

Notebook and Boofle PenI don't really know why I have such a bad memory. I know it started around the time I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism, so I guess it could be to do with that. It's a real problem, not least because no one gets it. When you say you forget things, the answer you will most often get is; 'Oh yes, me too! I have to write things down, I'd be lost without my notebook/ calendar/ organiser.'  This is a different kind of memory loss, though. The kind of memory issue I have can't be solved by writing things down, because when I forget something, I forget it ever happened. I forget I had the conversation when it was arranged. I forget the arrangement even needed to be made in the first place, and I would certainly forget if, and where, I wrote it down. If this is you, you will know how infuriating it is, but I have found some tips for helping with memory that have made things easier over the years. 

*In Collaboration with Active Minds

The thing I hate most about my memory loss is birthdays, particularly with family or groups of friends. If you forget one family member, or a friend out of a group, you are then faced with a dilemma. If you happen to remember the others, do you still send them a card, in which case, the one you forgot will feel even less appreciated, or do you not, and let them all think you don't care, but are at least equal about it? That's the awkward part, I don't have a lot of choice over the things I remember and those I don't. I have two nephews, born less than two years apart. One of them, I know exactly when he was born, the other one, I know roughly when it is, but I always have to ask for the exact date, but of course I love them both equally. In this situation, I have no choice than to just be honest, and hope people understand. I think it is difficult for others, though. If you've never suffered from this kind of memory loss, it is hard to comprehend, it probably looks a bit lazy and careless. 

Making appointments is tricky. It's got easier, because some services, such as the dentist and the school, use text reminders, which are a life saver, but hospitals and doctors are still a huge problem. I have tried everything over the years, but when I have to make appointments weeks or months in advance, it can be largely down to chance if I manage to remember them on the day. One trick I have been finding useful recently is the reminder function on my phone. I can set it to remind me about appointments the day before they happen. When I get the reminder, I change the name of my alarm for the following day to the name of the appointment, so my phone wakes me up with 'hospital', or 'school visit'. It's the most effective memory aid I have found so far, as it doesn't rely on me remembering to read a note, or look at a calendar, the reminder finds me!

Water Bottle on Conference Table

The jury is still out on whether or not this next tip actually works, but it's something I try to do and you might as well, as it's good to be healthy, anyway. I'm talking about making the best of your memory, by keeping your brain healthy. Brains are the first to suffer if you get dehydrated. If you are feeling thirsty, you are already dehydrated and your brain will not have all the water it needs to function properly, which is not going to help your memory or concentration. So keep your water levels topped up, so that you never feel thirsty and won't suffer from dehydration. In the same way, try to eat well and check out some of the supplements that may help (although I have not tested these scientifically!). Gingko Biloba, Fish Oils and Vitamin B are all believed to boost memory function.

Which leads me to another issue that I have struggled to solve. Taking regular medication. You can buy lots of different pill boxes, with days of the week, or even times of the day on, to help you remember to take the right pill at the right time, but these are useless if you forget to take them at all. The most useful strategy I've found (and it's not totally foolproof) is to attach taking them to something else. I have to take mine in the morning, so I always take them with my first cup of tea. Or, if you have to take them last thing at night, you could do it when you brush your teeth. If you can manage to keep this up for long enough, eventually, hopefully, you will associate one thing with the other and it will become second nature. That's the idea, anyway.

Playing memory games is said to help improve brain function. You can get lots of apps and games for your tablet, phone, or PC which will challenge different areas of the brain. I'm a big fan of the Brain Training games you can get for DS, but any brain boosting game should help, and they are quite fun and relaxing too. As someone who suffers with memory loss, I know how frustrating it can be. For people with dementia, their memory is just one aspect of their life that suffers. That's why I love the resources provided by Active Minds. This amazing company provides activity products to assist people with dementia in leading active, engaging and fulfilling lives. Their games and brain training exercises help people to keep their minds as active as possible which has been proven to slow the onset of dementia and afford them a better quality of life.


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