Why is it important for family members to support the use of new memory strategies?
After a traumatic brain injury, learning to use a memory strategy will be easier with the help family members and friends. This is because memory problems make it difficult to learn to use the strategy; family members or friends will need offer prompts on how to use it.
For example, someone with a brain injury may have a memory notebook but will forget to use it without a reminder. Family members can offer those reminders to write important appointments in the memory notebook and to review it throughout the day. Perhaps transportation needs to be arranged or the person has a doctor's appointment; when questions and symptoms come up to talk about with the doctor, family members can provide reminders to write those in the memory notebook and take it to the appointment.
Family members and friends can also offer reminders to check for information in the memory notebook. In response to the question, "When's my next neurology appointment?", rather than saying, "It's on June 15th," say, "How can you find that out? Look in your memory notebook. Where would you look to find that?"
With repetition, people will learn to use those strategies independently, and they'll know where and when to look for the information that they need. At the beginning, though, they may need help doing so, and that help can gradually be weaned over time as they learn to use it on their own.
See more information on memory notebooks and other memory aids from these resources:
Dr. Sander is an associate professor with tenure in the department of PM&R at Baylor College of Medicine and is director of TIRR Memorial Hermann’s Brain Injury Research Center. Her specialty areas include family adjustment to TBI, community integration of persons with TBI, intimacy after TBI, assessing and treating substance abuse in persons with TBI, and ethnic diversity in outcomes.