How a Stroke Affects your Short-term Memory and Tips to Cope

Drawing of the brain and its parts
Drawing of the brain with parts labeled.

A stroke often leads to short-term memory loss. Most people don’t realize that a stroke doesn’t leave you with just physical limitations. After a stroke many people struggle with cognitive tasks like planning, solving problems and concentrating. Some stroke survivors struggle with aphasia. About one third of stroke survivors find they have short-term memory problems.

Types of Memory

Your memory is your ability to take in, store and retrieve information. There are different types of memory.

  • When you remember what your neighbor looks like and where you live, you are using your visual or spatial memory.
  • When you remember that your wife told you to buy milk, you are using your verbal memory.
  • Your long-term memory recollects information from years ago.
  • Your short-term memory helps you recalls information from the recent past.

Without your short-term memory, you may find yourself getting lost in familiar places, mixing up instructions and stumped to pay for that milk .
So what can you do?

Brain Stimulation Training

Thankfully, the brain has a certain amount of plasticity. That means that the brain can re-organize itself. If part of the brain was damaged by a stroke, the brain can learn to use different areas to carry out the tasks that were once assigned to those parts. Amazing, right?

How to Stimulate Your Brain

  • Try taking up a new hobby.
  • Exercise because the fitter you are physically, the fitter you will be mentally.
  • Use memory cues. Link a the thing you want to remember to a familiar name or song.

Tips for Short-term Memory Loss

Losing your short-term memory is stressful. You can lessen the stress by learning how to cope with it. Here are some suggestions:

  • Stick to a routine.
  • Leave yourself notes to remind yourself to do things like checking the gas is off before you leave the house.
  • Make endless lists of the chores you need to do.
  • Always store things like your glasses in the same place.
  • Set up direct debits for bills so you don’t forget to pay them.
  • Label your bags and sweaters in case you forget them somewhere.

You may find that certain medications, alcohol, lack of sleep, poor nutrition and stress make your memory loss worse. So keep tabs on what affects you. The most rapid recovery usually occurs during the first three to four months after a stroke, but some survivors continue to recover well into the first and second year after their stroke. So don’t give up.


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