Memories... (and lack of!)

Looking for some advice on recovery of memory,
if anyone has some experience here.

I had a TIA in October '21 (MRI scan showed I also had several in the past). I have made a steady recovery and am back at work full time as of January this year. My physical fitness is also getting back to a decent level too.

However, one thing I am struggling with a lot is memory issues. I did some “brain training” type exercises during my recovery and I love word and number puzzles so still do these a lot. I just find there are many life events I can’t recall (holidays, trips, people I’ve met). I find I need to see a photograph or video for my brain to click with it. My short term recall is also affected in that I can’t remember new people’s names well and certain instructions I’ll need to hear twice or three times before I get it.

Anyone else found this affecting them or have some tips to deal with or improve things?

Thanks in advance
Lynsey :slight_smile:

1 Like

Shwmae @Lynsey87, in my own opinion I think it is essential to determine what is stroke related memory issues, and what are regular memory desceprencies. I have an issue with working memory and executive function. It’s not that I can’t remember something, it’s just that if I think of something else, that short term memory deletes. it hasn’t gone forever, it just becomes a blank because something else has taken its place. Recently, I had the unfortunate experience of someone trying to play me on my memory. I had expressed to them that I have “short term memory” problems as it is easier than saying working memory. They tried to convince me that I had said something in a particular way when I, clearly, remembered I hadn’t. At the time, it is possible that after having said what I said, I then forgot all about it. That’s working memory, but it doesn’t mean I can’t draw that memory back again when needed. They assumed I couldn’t have any memory of what I had said, and therefore could put words in my mouth that were never said.

Forgetting people’s names is common for many people, I wouldn’t necessarily put it down to stroke. Even with memories of the past, before stroke, someone could remind me of an event I had cleanly forgotten about, and only when something sparks the memory, does it all come flooding, or trickling, back. Or sometimes, not at all. An interesting moment I had with a group of people at the pub a few days ago, we were all trying to remember the name of Stanely Kubrick’s film, The Shining. We all sat there for ages trying to come up with the name, all these people bar one, were younger than me. All had seen the film. I guess, what I am trying to say is that sometimes in life, pre-stroke, our brains switch off and won’t be as sharp as we prefer. other times, we can remember all sorts of things.

Now, with stroke damage. The hippocampus, made up of two parts, is buried deep with our grey matter. It is extremely durable and can survive quite traumatic brain injury. If you notice with dementia, long-term memories are often retained. The hippocampus has a long-term memory part and a dynamic, active memory part. The issue would arise with other damaged parts of the cerebrum (or cerebellum) using the hippocampus for cognitive orientation. After the stroke, my working-memory fell to bits. My long-term retention took over, and for a glorious year, I was able to retain lots of interesting information and convey it at will. As things have improved with my working memory, that lovely long-term retention has resumed its regular, boring standard.

Exercises I did were these …

  • Every morning I would run through everything I had done the day before. In summary.
  • Every night I would run through everything I had done that day. In summary.
  • I would try and remember at least three different things at one time throughout the day. (Astronauts in space, I am to believe, train to remember seven things at one time).
  • Try and remember the full names of school friends.
  • I did free memory games on Brain HQ. It’s important to keep in mind that there are different types of memory (visual &c.)
  • I used memory by association a lot. So, if I had to remember to take the bin bags out. I might crumple a piece of paper and throw it on the floor near my bedroom door. Before going to bed, I would see the crumpled piece of paper, and realise I had to put the bins out. many people use association without having had a stroke, “Her name is Lily because she is so silly.”
  • Try not to get distracted, if you can finish a task that you need to, do it straight away before a distraction wipes the slate clean.
  • Aromatherapy, smell is the strongest of the five senses. It can help wake up the memory function.

At the end of the day, don’t beat yourself up about some memory issues. We all walk into a room, and think, why did I come here. Some things are part of the natural flux of memory, some things are age related (as we get older our memory will need to work harder anyway), and then there is direct stroke-related memory problems, some of which will no doubt be part of PTS (post-traumatic stress), anxiety which can hinder memory, direct brain damage (communication loops not quite working), and particularly working memory and executive function. The last two are very common post-stroke complications that over-time can be improved by rehearsing the memory.

Hope this helps a little.


Diolch @ZX1, I think there’s a lot involved with memory post stroke, especially with brain fog and fatigue to add to the mix.

1 Like

Hi Lynsey. I have exactly the same issues. My memory had never been great beforehand, so I try and view it as a less important part of my life now.

Stroke effects everybody in different ways- you don’t fully recover to how you were before, and it’s important to come to terms with that.
Having said that, things do improve with time.
To me it’s more important to function physically, than remember things from my past, so that’s what I concentrate on.

Maybe looking through old photo albums will help
Concentrate on the most important things first, I’m sure your memory will improve.
For me, I’m grateful I can hold my grandchildren, be physically mobile, and carry on my daily life.

1 Like

Hello Lynsey, this is something I also suffer with. I link this short term recall as you describe with my coordination skills. It takes me a lot of time to concentrate on some small tasks in the here and now.
I have to take things slowly and carefully plan what I am doing. Making a simple meal can be challenging but I have learned to take my time and plan ahead.
My multiple TIAs happened between 4 and 7 years ago but the difficulties I describe are still persisting. However I am still learning ways to cope. Like yourself, I am always open to ideas.

1 Like

This is so helpful @Rups ! I am definitely trying some of these tips. I find taking notes each day quite helpful and looking back over them the next day.

I’m sorry to hear about the person taking advantage of your memory issues believing you wouldn’t realise - I also have this fear (especially at work) so finding it very useful to commit what is said to paper! I also didn’t think about aromatherapy but this sounds like a lovely way to help with memories :blush:

1 Like

Thanks @Colliwobble for the photo idea. I try to use my Google photos as a prompt as it has a nice feature where things will appear that happened on the same day a year ago, 2 years ago etc. Now my plan is I need to find a way to get even older photos (the low tech versions) into some kind of album / date ordered.

You are so right about coming to terms with how I am now vs before. This is taking longer than I’d like! Practising gratefulness is good advice :pray:


@sunnyday sorry to hear about your TIAs. You are right it’s good to take it slow, plan ahead. I feel like since I’m back at work a few months now, there is a pressure to do more and faster (pressure is mostly self applied!) Taking a breath and slowing down is also good, just need to keep reminding myself! :slight_smile:

1 Like

Diolch means thanks :grinning:

1 Like