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August 25, 2021 | From the Speech Pathology Services at the University of Washington Medical Center

We are grateful for the permission to re-publish this article from the University of Washington Medical Center.

uw med - Memory Strategies: Helping You Remember


This article explains the 4 types of memory. It also gives strategies to help you remember things if your memory is impaired.

What is memory?

memory - Memory Strategies: Helping You Remember

Injury or illness can affect your memory.

Memory is the ability to learn, store, and retrieveinformation. New or increasing problems withany or all of these 3 stages of memory oftenoccur after a traumatic brain injury, stroke, braintumor, multiple sclerosis, or other kind of injury or illness that affects your nervous system.

Some memory problems may also occur as part of normal aging, when manypeople have more trouble retrieving new information.


Types of Memory

  • Long-term (remote): memory for old, well-learned information that has been rehearsed (used) over time, such as the name of a childhood pet,memories of vacations, or where you went to high Long-termmemory tends to remain after injury or illness.
  • Short-term (recent): memory for new things that took place a fewminutes, hours, or days ago, such as what you had for breakfast or what you did yesterday. Short-term memory tends to be the most affected after People who have had brain injuries may have problems withattention span, storing memories, thinking quickly, and learning easily. These memory problems make it hard to understand and save short-term memories so that they can be rehearsed and stored in long-term memory.
  • Immediate (working): memory for information that is current, that youusually keep track of mentally, such as a phone number you look up, directions someone just gave you, or keeping track of numbers in your head when you add or subtract.
  • Prospective: the ability to remember to do something in the future, such as taking a medicine, going to an appointment, or following through on an assignment or project.

Strategies to Help Improve Your Memory

medicine - Memory Strategies: Helping You Remember

A medicine organizing tool can help you remember when yo take your medicines.

Your speech therapist can help you with strategies to help you remember new information. There are 2 maintypes of strategies to help your memory: internal reminders and external reminders.

Internal Reminders

  • Rehearsal: retelling yourself information you just learned, or restating it out loud in your own words.
  • Repetition: saying the same information over and over, either silently or out loud.
  • Clarification: asking others to repeat or rephrase information.
  • Chunking: grouping items to reduce the number of items to remember, such as grouping 7-digit phonenumbers into 2 chunks, one with 3 numbers and the other with 4 numbers.
  • Rhyming: making a rhyme out of important information.
  • Acronyms or alphabet cueing: creating a letter for each word you want to remember, or vice versa. One example is using the sentence “Every Good Boy Does Fine” to remember that the notes E, G, B, D, and Fare on the lines of a treble staff in music.
  • Imagery (also called visualization): creating pictures of the information in your mind.
  • Association: linking old information or habits with the new, such as taking your medicine at the same time that you brush your teeth.
  • Personal meaning: making the new information meaningful or emotionally important to you in some way.

External Reminders

  • Using a paper or electronic calendar or day planner.
  • Setting timers or alarms to remind you to do something.
  • Using written reminders such as to-do lists, shopping lists, and project outlines.
  • Recording new information with a voice recorder.
  • Using a medicine organizing tool, such as a MediSet.
  • Creating specific, permanent places for important One example is putting your keys, wallet, and cellphone in the same place every time you get home.
Your questions are important. Call your doctor or healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns.

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