March is Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month. Throughout the month, we will have helpful hints, tips/tricks and resources that may help an individual that has a TBI or other disability. If you have a loved one with a TBI and you have something that you find helpful for them, PLEASE share. Something you share may change a person’s life.
What is a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)? According to the CDC a TBI is caused by a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of a TBI may range from “mild,” i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness to “severe,” i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury.
Some individuals with a TBI have difficulty with memory. It is hard to remember things from the past such as telephone numbers, important dates such as birthdays or anniversaries or remember when the last time they ate. It can also be difficult to remember things that will happen in the future such as when to take medications, appointments or their favorite show. It is a very frustrating not remembering how to do activities and routines; done effortless and mindless at one time.
Everyone forgets things but individuals with memory difficulties from a TBI, stroke or other disorder that affects memory forget thing more frequently. Typically, long-term memory is not affected it is the short-term memory.
Long-term memory is the ability to recall events, experiences, information, or skills that occurred or was acquired in the distant past. So childhood memories are typically not affected.
Short – term memory is brief retention of information that is currently being processed in a person's mind.
Ways to improve memory
1) Set up a memory place: Choose a permanent spot such as a drawer, basket or table for things such as glasses, pocketbook, keys, and lists.
2) Write things down in a journal that you carry with you in your purse or pocket. You can do this in a spiral notebook, your phone or voice recorder.
3) Photo Album is a great way to give visual reminders of things to do, sequence of refresh a memory.
4) Checklist of things to do or for an activity. If this is something you need to reuse you can laminate it so you can wipe it off.
5) Use labels to show you where objects are located or go.
6) Use a pill organizer to organize your medications for the week, part of the day or month. If you have medications, you need to take during the day, carry a small pill carrier in your pocketbook or lunch bag.
7) If you have a difficult time remembering when to take medications or getting out the door on time, you can use your cell phone, kitchen timer or watch to remind you.
8) If you have access to a cell phone, email or have an answering machine, send yourself a message especially if it is something you have to do later when you get home. For example, “remember to give the dog his heart pill”.
9) Use a calendar to keep track of events and things you have to do. Color-coding things often helps. Red for doctors, Blue for work, Yellow for Fun activities.
10) Sticky Notes: keep them handy. You can jot a note and post it on the steering wheel, on your car keys or the bathroom mirror.