When you’re suffering from memory loss, it can be easy to feel helpless. Whether it’s the name of your neighbor’s dog, what you need from the grocery store, or where you went on family vacation when you were 12, it’s disconcerting to forget something you used to recall effortlessly. At Vista Prairie, we know how troubling those moments can feel. We’ve put together a list of strategies you can use to improve your ability to recall information you gather throughout the day.
1. Don’t undervalue how often your memory gets it right. The things you successfully remember outnumber the few that evade you. When you feel yourself starting to worry about your memory, remind yourself of all the ways your memory served you well that day.
2. Pay attention and don’t multi-task. Sometimes, forgetting something—“Did I lock the front door?”—isn’t a symptom of memory loss, it’s just a failure of attention. Multitasking splits your attention, making it harder to remember any individual piece of information. Practice being present and conscious of what you’re doing in each moment and you’ll find you’re better able to recall things you do, see, and learn throughout the day.
3. Rehearse new information or thoughts. When we first hear new information or have a new thought, it only exists in short-term memory. If something else distracts us before it is stored in long-term, it will slip away. To be sure you’ll remember something, spend a moment rehearsing it in your thoughts. This will solidify the memory and send it to long-term storage so that you can recall it later.
4. Make connections. Memories are nothing more than connections between neurons, so by consciously drawing links between ideas in your thoughts, you can force your mind to create a memory. For example, to remember to do something when you get home, visualize an object involved in the task. That object will become a cue that will remind you of the task when you see it.
5. Switch up your routine. Studies have shown that new experiences awaken our attention, making it easier to recall information. Our brain assumes the new information will be important and makes an extra effort to retain it. Doing something out of the ordinary or changing your routine can improve your memory for the rest of the day.