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The neuropsychology department offers complex diagnostic assessment and treatment for outpatients and inpatients with cognitive, emotional and behavioural impairment as a result of neurological disorders

Everyday memory problems: A practical guide


Video transcript: Everyday memory problems: A practical guide

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Hi, I'm Heather Condon.

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And I'm Hugh Green.

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We see many people in our clinic

who are worried about their memories.

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In many cases, this is not

because there is a problem with the brain.

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Rather, there are other factors

that can help explain these problems.

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Firstly, it's good to understand how memory works.

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The first part of making a memory

is paying attention and taking information in.

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If you don't pay attention and take information

in, then you can't store and retrieve it later on.

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However, it's important to understand

that our attention has a limited capacity.

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We encounter so much information

each day that we couldn't possibly absorb it all.

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So our brain helps us to filter

which information is and is not relevant.

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For example, you're unlikely to have noticed

that Heather is now wearing a different shirt

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at the beginning of the video.

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This is a great example of how it's impossible

for us to absorb all the information

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that we encounter.

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Another way of thinking about attention

is like a cup that can only hold so much water.

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Factors such as fatigue,

poor sleep, stress, worry and low

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mood can interfere with attention

or fill up for a cup of attention.

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And that means you have less space

to take in information

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then that affects what you can remember later on.

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If you haven't taken it in in the first place,

you won't be able to retrieve it later.

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Some common intentional symptoms

that people report include misplacing things,

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losing their train of thought

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or forgetting details of conversations

that they've had, or things that they've done.

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People also talk about walking into a room

and forgetting why they went in.

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Or forgetting that they're midway through a task

and failing to complete the task.

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We can do quite a lot of monitoring,

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complicated things entirely on autopilot

without paying any attention to them at all.

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We've all had the experience of preparing a meal,

having a conversation with a friend

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or driving somewhere,

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and then later feeling alarmed

that we have no clear memory of the events.

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This can then lead to a vicious cycle

where people feel worry.

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They notice more attentional problems

and that increases their worry,

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leading to a greater difficulties

with paying attention.

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that many problems with memory are normal

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and not something to worry about

can be a relief in itself.

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But there are some things you can do to help

improve your memory.

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Firstly, think about what factors

might be contributing to the problems.

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For example, there changes

that you could make to your lifestyle,

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such as cutting down on alcohol

or being more mindful of your sleep routine.

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We would diet if you're having difficulties

with low mood anxiety or poor sleep.

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You can seek support from your GP.

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There are

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also some helpful resources on our website

that you might find useful

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to help retain information

using strategies like prompts, diaries

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and planners can help do some of the work

of storing information for you.

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If you find you're on autopilot a lot of the time,

perhaps because you're very busy,

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then using strategies like routine

and habit can be really helpful.

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For example,

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you could put reminders in those can't miss places

and always put things in the same place.

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So to summarise, many problems

that people bring to our clinic are not caused

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by problems with the brain.

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Rather than being memory problems,

these can be understood as attentional problems.

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There are lots of things

you can do to help yourself.

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Please have a look at our website

for more information.

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However, we understand that for some people

these problems will be very upsetting

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and distressing.

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If you find that the difficulties go on

for longer than three months

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or they are having an impact on your ability

to function independently.

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A good first port of call

for more specialist help is to contact your GP.

Understanding the causes of memory problems and how to manage them

There are many reasons for memory problems. Some memory problems result from neurological disorders while others may be the result of stress, anxiety, fatigue, depression or other factors. This booklet is intended to provide an understanding of the stages of memory, the causes of memory problems and some strategies for dealing with them.

Everyday memory problems: A practical guide

Neuropsychology is concerned with the relationship between the brain and our thinking skills (cognition) and behaviour. Changes in thinking, emotional wellbeing and behaviour can occur after brain injury or illness. We provide assessment for patients who have concerns about their own abilities or those of their loved ones, and rehabilitation where appropriate.

We see patients from 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, and we offer face-to-face, telemedicine and telephone consultations.

We have a friendly and knowledgeable secretary Fiona Aschmann, who is willing to answer any questions.

Please call 01223 217557.

Managing Cognitive and Emotional Difficulties

When you have been unwell with COVID-19, it will have been a confusing and unsettling time. This is likely to have been made worse by hospital noises, alarms and limited daylight along with disruption of your normal sleep-wake patterns. The masks and goggles or visors that staff wore may have made you feel disoriented or scared and you might have seen other patients who were unwell. These experiences may lead to a range of emotions as well as changes to your memory and thinking.

A Guide for Patients and Relatives on the Cognitive Effects of recovering from COVID-19

A Guide for Patients and Relatives on the Cognitive Effects of recovering from ICU

Non-urgent advice: Referral information

Referrals are mostly made by the neurology and neurosurgery teams. If you have concerns about your or your loved ones' cognitive functioning, please ask your GP to refer you to the neurology department, who will refer on to us if appropriate.

Non-urgent advice: Key personnel

Fiona Jobson
Medical secretary

Karen Chan
Medical secretary

Emma Woodberry
Consultant clinical psychologist and joint head of department

Claire Illingworth
Consultant clinical psychologist and joint head of department

Georgina Browne
Consultant clinical psychologist

Becky Rous
Clinical psychologist and inpatient clinical lead

Alexa McDonald
Clinical psychologist and outpatient clinical lead

Huw Green
Clinical psychologist and stroke lead, inpatient team

Priya Varma
Clinical psychologist, outpatient team

Heather Condon
Clinical psychologist, outpatient team

Glenneze Ong
Clinical psychologist, inpatient team

Lisa Healy
Clinical psychologist

Esme Hayes
Assistant psychologist, outpatient team

Nimesh Patel
Assistant psychologist, inpatient team

Key Staff