Dealing with memory problems

4. Living with memory problems

Many people find the following approaches helpful. It can help to try out different approaches and discover which ones work best for you.

Build on the skills you still have. For example, if you’ve always been an organiser and good at planning, make the most of this when facing new challenges.

A regular routine

Set up a regular daily routine. This will make it easier to remember what will happen over the course of the day. Include time to relax as part of the routine. But keep some variety and stimulation, such as meeting up with a friend or visiting a museum, so you don’t get bored.

Talk about your day

If you’ve been out for the day, talk to your partner, or a friend or family member afterwards about it. This is a good way of remembering and feeling positive about what you’ve done that day.

Plan ahead

Plan ahead to make your daily tasks more manageable. For example, put out the things you’ll need for the next day near the front door – but not somewhere you’ll trip over them! For example, you could put out a bag, your keys, and your wallet or purse. This will help you to remember these items the next morning.

One thing at a time

Focus on trying to do only one thing at a time. For example, if you’re making a cup of tea, don’t make a phone call at the same time. For a new task – like some of the memory strategies in section 4 – repeat it and give yourself time to learn it.

Small steps

Break tasks down into smaller steps. Then you can focus on just one step at a time. For example, if you’re wet-shaving or washing your hair, set out the things you need in order then put each one aside once you’ve used it. Ask for help from others if you think you need it.

One place for everything

Try to keep important things such as your keys, glasses and wallet in the same place. This could be a large bowl somewhere obvious and visible (for example, by the telephone, next to the fridge or on the coffee table). Then you can always find them easily.

Knowing where things are

Try to keep the layout of your home familiar so that you know where things are. Consider labelling drawers and cupboards with words or pictures of what’s inside them. Remove any clutter or unnecessary items.


If your environment is noisy or very busy, you will find it harder to remember things or concentrate. Your memory works much better with no distractions. Try to make your environment quiet and remove any unnecessary distractions.


Try to do the most challenging things early in the day, when you have most energy and can concentrate best. Avoid them if you feel tired, anxious or unwell. Take your time.


Talk to friends and family about how you feel and how you can work together. They can support you to try out new techniques to help with your memory.

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you find something more difficult than you used to. You could take some time out and come back to it again later or think about different ways to manage the task.