Memory is our ability to recall when we want to, information that we have received previously. Some may call it, not forgetting.
There are phases to memory called long and short term, with a period of consolidation as the memory is transferred from short term to long term, then stored.
As new information is coming into our brains older information is lost or stored in long term memory.
Information that we rarely forget is that which we relate to - particularly if it is familiar and is important to us like family members’ names, certain tastes, smells and how some things feel.
We are constantly bombarded with information every day from people we meet, television, radio, computers, newspapers and through the post. It is no wonder that we all have difficulties remembering things at times.
We all suffer from memory lapses at some time but people with epilepsy seem to experience memory difficulties as a consequence of having seizures.
Many people with epilepsy have excellent memories but some will experience problems, particularly when trying to recall recent information such as people’s names. Other things that people find difficult to remember are new information, birthdays and other important dates, complex ideas, music titles and singers, jokes and where personal items were last seen.
People who have frequent seizures, and those taking antiepileptic medications, especially in high doses and more than one medication type, do seem to have varying degrees of memory difficulties.
Many factors affect our ability to remember, such as our overall state of health, tiredness, depression, anxiety, how well we concentrate and how motivated we are to remember.
To improve your memory there are several aids. Buy a diary and make daily entries, no matter how trivial. Word association is a good way of remembering things by using visual images.
Tips to improve your memory:
- Exercise and diet are an essential part of keeping your memory working and mind healthy.
- Exercise relieves stress, enhances blood flow and provides needed nutrients to the brain.
- Avoiding smoking, alcohol and other drugs will also enhance your memory.
- Memory is improved through practise. Keep your mind active by reading, doing puzzles or courses.
- Mental exercises provide intellectual stimulation.
- Being organised enhances your memory and decreases stress.
- Find somewhere to place things that you use in your daily routine.
- Make lists of what you want to remember.
- Keep a diary/calendar or a journal and be diligent in its use.
- Concentrate when receiving new information and try and relate to it something familiar.
- Concentrate and pay attention to information that you want to remember.
- Repeat any information you want to remember, either say it aloud or write it down. Repetition makes it easier to remember and reinforces the learned information.
- When trying to remember names, associate the sound of the name with a similar sounding word.
- When we are rushed or stressed our memory often fails us. Our memory is always better when we are not stressed or tired.
- Take the time needed to store and recall information. It is important to allow yourself the time necessary to complete a thought, to express yourself or to complete a task.
- Do not try and force yourself to remember things, the more you try to remember, the less likely you will.
- Try to limit distractions around you if you need to recall or memorise things. Be positive!
Remember that we all forget things and we remember things in different ways. If you do forget something, don't punish yourself, simply ask someone for help and forgive yourself. Reward yourself when you do remember things.