Stroke Memory Problems
Practical Tips for Memory Loss After a Stroke
Types of memory problems that can occur after a stroke
Some memory loss after a stroke is common, but sometimes it's so subtle, you might not even notice the problem until the stroke survivor has to perform complicated daily tasks.
Memory problems can manifest either as trouble learning new information and skills or trouble remembering and retrieving information.
- Problems with verbal memory: trouble learning or remembering names, stories, or other information having to do with words.
- Problems with visual memory: trouble learning or remembering faces, shapes, directions, or other things sensed by sight.
- Vascular dementia: an overall decline in thinking abilities, with symptoms similar to Alzheimer's.
It's unlikely that a stroke survivor's memory will be completely restored. But for many people, memory can improve over time, spontaneously or with rehabilitation. Meanwhile, here are ways you can help.
- If memory loss is dramatic, address the problem when the person is still in the hospital. If a stroke survivor can't remember his name or where he lives, you'll need to arrange for more care than he had before the stroke.
- Keep important items in designated places. For example, hang keys on a hook by the door and keep wallets or purses on a hall table.
- Set daily routines performed in the same sequence. For example, to get ready for bed, he'll first put on pajamas, then brush teeth, and then use the toilet.
- Repeat yourself often if a stroke survivor forgets what you've said. Though it can be frustrating to say the same thing over and over, you're helping him by patiently repeating what you've already said.
- Help him keep a notebook of important information. You might want to divide it into separate sections, with labels for doctor's appointments, medications, and personal information.
- Create mnemonic devices to help remember simple tasks. For example, the phrase "ALL OK" might help a stroke survivor remember what needs to be done before he leaves the house: appliances (off), lights (off), locked (door), oven (off), keys (in pocket).