Simple tips to help deal with memory problems

11 May
Digital Camera Magazine (August 2011)

Digital Camera Magazine (August 2011) (Photo credit: midlander1231)

Are you having difficulty with your memory and want to know how you can help yourself.  Here are some tips to help compensate for memory problems. There are a list of ways to cope with these deficits.  The first way you can begin to help yourself is by keeping a journal and documenting. Immediately following an injury or dealing with brain dysfunction you may need a friend, spouse, or significant other to help document in a journal. Have you tried using a camera to record everything in your life? One will give suggestions of how this works.

By reviewing the written words it helps retrieve memories of events, people, and other important things that you could not retrieve otherwise. In addition, to your writing everything it’s time to try something different and easier.  What we have heard throughout our lives is that a picture is worth a thousand words. So that brings us to the next best thing to compensate for memory issues.

Since pictures are worth a thousand words, that would mean less writing and instead spending that time enjoying pleasurable people, events, scenery, and simple things.  So, the next best thing to paper and pen would be a camera. Cameras are also a way to record what is happening. This is a valuable tool that should not be overlooked.  It’s a way to enjoy events after-the-fact.

By this I mean, if you have difficulty with processing information a camera offers you the ability to enjoy things at a later moment in time. This is a common issue with brain injury.  Slow-processors are unique to brain injury and brain dysfunction.  Many individuals will leave an event only to process the information in one’s environment, conversations,  and other things many hours to days later.  Sometimes even years later.  It’s the missing link that cannot make connections in damaged areas of your brain.

Angel with mobile phone

Angel with mobile phone (Photo credit: Akbar Sim)

Begin taking pictures of everything. This will help you remember what happened during your daily life, but it will also help you learn the camera. It’s two-fold: Memory and Learning.  These are the things you want to begin taking pictures of:

  1. Special occasions
  2. Restaurants
  3. Friends that you visited
  4. Places you go
  5. Daily activities
  6. Meals you created or eaten
  7. Everything, every place and everyone

With all the digital cameras available find a simple one.  If even the simplest is too difficult for you, find a friend that will help you learn it.  You will enjoy the photos and have a clear and concise record of what is happening in your life.  It will keep your memories alive.  I cannot underestimate the importance of using a camera.

There are so many different types of cameras on the market in 2012 that it’s hard to pick from.  What you would want is the easiest to use, one with the date imprint on it, small and convenient, inexpensive and a memory card.  That keeps the date clear and keeps the expense low with a memory card.   Make sure the camera is small enough you can slip in your pocket or purse.  There are also a number of cell phones that have cameras, but if you are not a cell phone user, consider a simple camera.

Either way, you will need to know how to download them to your computer or visit your local CVS, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart, or other photo store.  Ask for help to view, crop, and create albums or simply print photos.  You will find some amazing people willing to help you learn these things in the photo departments.  Take advantage of these services, and you will find yourself learning new things from the use of your camera.

As you recover the more advanced cell phones can be used for a number of other memory aids and compensatory issues.  Those will not be discussed here.  This is solely to discover the use of cameras. The following are the main things you need with a camera:

  1. Digital camera or Cell phone with camera
  2. Memory card
  3. Small size to fit in pocket or purse
  4. Date imprint on photo
  5. Inexpensive (so if you loose it)

Memory aids are a significant source to compensate with traumatic brain injury.  After the initial injury a notebook and pen are the best ways to keep documenting and help with memory.  A camera is a good alternative to jotting down notes or use in conjunction with notes.

Take a camera every place you go.  Take pictures of everything.  You can never have enough pictures.  They are easy enough to delete if you don’t need them.  You’d be surprised how convenient they are, and you may not need to take as many notes.

Take pictures of:

  1. Friends and family visits
  2. Events
  3. Meals
  4. Restaurants you visit
  5. Places of Worship
  6. Schools
  7. Pictures of outings
  8. Scenery
  9. Nature-Wild Flowers, Animals, Birds, etc.
  10. Dogs, Cats
SD Memory Card, USB Pen Drive and Ballpoint pe...

SD Memory Card, USB Pen Drive and Ballpoint pen for scale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take pictures of anything you enjoy, anywhere you go, events you attend, people you spend time with, and simply the things you do.  Anything, anywhere, and anyone…use your camera.  Use it as a tool for your memory, but also as a tool to bring pleasure back into your life. When you review your life on camera you may see it from a completely different perspective.

It’s amazing how much you miss because one is easily overwhelmed with so many things in life.  The appreciation your photos will certainly come after your life becomes documented.  You will be able to enjoy the precious moments when you have quiet time and that time becomes a moment for reflection.

The things you think you have lost out on, you may still be able to capture and enjoy even though it’s at a later moment.  How often have you gone to a gathering, event, restaurant and not enjoyed the moment because so many distractions and the overwhelming environment?

A camera will offer you time to reflect and enjoy those moments you no longer can appreciate spontaneously.  You most likely are the type that attend these functions but find that you can’t experience them as you once did.  You smile and pretend you understand everything … but that’s not your reality.  You are just physically present sometimes because it’s what is expected, or what you perceive as expectations.  The spontaneous is gone.

See if you can still capture the same or similar emotions when you are in your quiet home reviewing your pictures.  If you feel you are not good with names, add those names when you are reviewing your pictures.  You will surprise yourself how one can form new memories and retrieve ways to compensate.

For those who poke fun at you because you take so many pictures, ignore them. They don’t understand brain injury or memory problems.  Those people will be asking for those pictures sometime in your future.


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5 responses to “Simple tips to help deal with memory problems

  1. Audrey Quaye

    May 15, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    Great tip! I will start documenting more with my camera.

    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      May 15, 2012 at 9:07 pm

      Click away and keep those pictures. You’re more likely to view pictures than review your writings. Also, when you injure yourself take pictures of injury every day so you can see the healing progress, or lack thereof. Take these pictures to your physician, because a fair amount of time will lapse before you get an appointment. Even if you get an appointment it does help a good doctor see what’s happening. You never know when you might need those pics. I suggest for anyone with anything that is visible…take pictures of rashes, injuries, anything visible that may go away in a short time before an appointment. You can help solve problems by pictures! You are your own detective!

  2. Anita Mac

    May 15, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    I have taken to using my cell phone to take photos of things I want to remember! I did that while wandering the streets in Prague, worried that I may not find my way back to my hotel! I was so impressed that just the act of setting up the photograph was enough – I made it back with no problems!

    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      May 16, 2012 at 7:11 am

      Thanks for suggesting this tip for directions and locations. I failed to mention this. It’s a great use of a camera. I used a compass for a long time, until digital cameras and cell phones were so easy to help with memory. Snapshots of streets signs and buildings certainly help don’t they?


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