Memory Loss

confused woman sitting in front of a laptop

Everyone experiences memory loss from time to time. As we age, our memories might get even fuzzier, but when memory loss interferes with normal functioning, it’s called dementia. Memory loss is more common in older stroke survivors.

What is Memory Loss after stroke?

You might experience the following types of memory loss:

  • Verbal: memory of names, stories and information having to do with language
  • Visual: memory of shapes, faces, routes and things seen
  • Informational: memory of information and skills or trouble learning new things
  • Vascular dementia: A common post-stroke condition involving loss of thinking abilities

Symptoms of memory loss after a stroke may include:

  •  Confusion or problems with short-term memory
  • Wandering or getting lost in familiar places
  •  Difficulty following instructions
  • Trouble making monetary transactions
  • Memory loss may be a direct result of stroke but can also be caused or worsened by medications; use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs; lack of sleep; depression and stress; or poor nutrition.

Can memory loss after stroke be treated?

Memory can improve over time, either spontaneously or through rehabilitation, but symptoms can last for years. Your memory loss may benefit from medications for related problems, such as anxiety, depression or sleeping problems.

Brain retraining techniques are designed to improve your thinking and memory after a stroke. The training can help improve alertness and attention, but there’s no scientific proof that such therapy can improve your ability to carry out daily tasks. This training can be done in person as well as with computer programs and applications. To stimulate your brain and improve memory and cognitive ability, you can try new hobbies that involve both the mind and body. Also, exercise: Physical fitness adds to overall physical and mental health.

Tips for managing memory loss

  • Have a place for everything. For example, hang keys on a hook by the door. Put things away where they belong.
  • Have a routine. Set daily routines, such as bedtime tasks, in the same specific sequence every day.
  • Post both daily activities and special events on a large calendar. Write things down.
  • Keep a notebook of important information handy.
  • Organize it into sections, such as appointments, phone numbers and medications. Put notes in prominent places and leave written directions on how to use common household items, such as phones and microwaves, next to those items.
  • Use memory cues. Memory cues help you remember certain tasks or information. To make a memory cue, connect a task or piece of information to something meaningful, such as an image, familiar name or song. Keep it simple. Try not to tackle too many things at once.
  • Break tasks down into easy steps. “Could you repeat that, please?” If you forget what someone said, ask them to repeat as often as necessary.