The Social Impact of Memory Problems

Question: 

How can memory problems impact social relationships with friends and family?

Answer: 

If you’re having memory problems, you may have trouble in your social relationships because you’re not remembering to follow up on something important that happened to your friends. For example, let's say that you know your friend recently had surgery and you hadn’t seen her for a few weeks. After seeing her for the first time in a few weeks, you want to follow up and ask how recovery is going, how she is feeling, if there's anything you can do to help. But if you don’t remember that, then you’re not going to follow up and your friend may feel that you don’t care about what she’s been through.

It can also have an impact on your ability to track details from one conversation to another so you can follow up on things when you’re getting to know new people. So remembering, for example, "You told me that you were from New York; tell me more about what it’s like to be in New York." Yet if you’re not remembering what you talked about from a prior conversation, you’re not going to be able to follow up on that in a future conversation and continue to get to know that person.

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Posted on BrainLine August 7, 2018.

About the author: Allison N. Clark, MD

Dr. Clark is an assistant professor in the department of PM&R at Baylor College of Medicine and research scientist at the Brain Injury Research Center at TIRR Memorial Hermann. A clinical neuropsychologist by training, her areas of interest include emotional functioning following acquired brain injury, knowledge translation, group interventions, and cognitive rehabilitation.