Try To Remember...Better

So you forget things, many things. You forget names, places, faces, crucial information, where you put things and if you flushed the toilet. Then you start searching high and low either physically or imaginatively. Either the memories come back to you or they don’t. If you rely on just your brain at the spur of the moment, it may or may not avail you of your recollection. This problem is actually much worse in adults with dementia where there is further compromise of cognitive capabilities such as memory and attentiveness. Similarly, for older adults who have had a steady decline in their mental capacities, memory lapses can be very frustrating.  These are genuine concerns which people can guard against by taking advantage of some simple and practical aids for their memory.


Just can't recallCredit: Public Domain

Practical Memory Tips

Here are a dozen ways you can use both your mental capacity as well as other means to just remember better next time.

  • Sight and sound

The usual reason not to have remembered anything in the first place is our lack of present moment focus - you weren’t attentive enough and failed to observe or listen closely. So next time, all you have to do is pay attention and listen carefully(even if you have heard this many times). An example is when attending a class. Studies prove most of what was seen and heard can be forgotten within a few days. It’s also why motivational sessions fail so often.

  • In your mind’s eye (re-enactment and visualization)

Imagine the situation you were in again. Re-enact the sequence mentally as you recall it and then fragments of memory may flash in your mind to make you catch the missing part.

  • Create an abbreviation or mnemonic

Sometimes it’s not something you lost but just a piece of information or data you want to remember more easily for use in various situations. In mathematics - specifically trigonometry - when you want to get the sine, cosine or tangent of an angle, you will have to remember in which quadrant the angle is located in the 360-degree plane to determine the right sign(positive or negative). If you take "ASTC" which stands for "add sugar to coffee" as your descriptive abbreviation, then that should decipher as “All,Sine,Tangent,Cosine” counter-clockwise easily.  There are also different types of mnemonic usage that you can explore.

  • Repeat to yourself

Repetition is the mother of memory. Anything you say or do repeatedly is going to stick right up there after a while. Try this with ingredients for an interesting recipe that you just overheard on the radio but have yet to write down since you were driving.

  • Use Post-Its

Just have them handy and quickly smack one somewhere neatly if you have jotted down that number you just got or some reminder.

  • Make them rhyme

Use your child sense from elementary school. Pick a few words you are extremely familiar with that sound the same to attach to other words or names that you need to take note of but are not familiar with. You could use a dictionary or thesaurus later if relevant to recall the elusive words.

  • Take a photo with your hand phone

This is useful in remembering where you put something, like your keys especially if you were to be gone for a long time.

  • Just ask someone around

Do you know that many times someone around us actually remembers better about something of importance to us than ourselves? We tend to overlook this fact until they ask of their own accord and then you have the answer from them right away.

  • Take memory supplements

This is more of a long-term solution. There are memory supplements that if you take regularly may help enhance your retention power. One well-known, well researched item is Ginkgo Biloba which improves blood circulation. Other supplements available are such as vitamin E and fish oil capsules, though maybe having less of a direct effect. Ensure that these can be taken with your regular medication if any. There are also several other effective combined element supplements.

  • Use the computer

Rather than being an immediate solution, while working with one, the computer can act as your intermediary for many a thing to be remembered at a later time. If you are surfing and found that crucial piece of information, rather than grinding through bookmarked pages all over again, just copy and paste right away into Notepad or MS-OneNote and it will be there for you the next time, saving you precious time and effort.

  • Habits die hard

Why not put the power of habit to more positive use? When you habituate something, the process of remembering becomes second nature. For example, if you frequently can’t recall how a person you had met before looks when their name is mentioned to you - maybe a distant relative - just make a habit of taking a good look at people while they say their name.

  • Just relax

Occasionally, just letting it go for a while can bring back memories under a calmer state. An uncluttered mind has led to many “gotchas” in the annals of science. Similarly, engaging in objective relaxation creates a soothing, reflective state conducive for mental recovery.


Mental Chaos and ConfusionCredit: Public Domain


Good Memory Habits

In a sense, when you forget something important and you are trying to squeeze it out of your head right away(so to speak), it’s like trying to solve the problem right where it started - in your head - and this can be driving you in circles. By having means other than forcing that piece of memory out, you will be making such situations become less stressful and those good memory habits you build over time essentially as an extension to your mental capacity will inevitably improve your communication and make you a better problem solver.