Memory Tips for People Living with Epilepsy

People living with epilepsy may face issues with memory as a result of their epilepsy, their seizures, their medication, or a combination of all three. If you face issues with your memory, you are not alone. Please see below for some quotes on memory from people living with epilepsy:

  • “I have regular absence seizures throughout the day every day. When I blank out, I completely forget what I was doing or saying and it’s so frustrating.” – Rachel N.
  • “I forget parts of conversations and my days blend together sometimes because I can’t remember if something happened today or yesterday.” – Jessie K.
  • “I primarily forget people’s names. I remember ‘Ah, it’s the guy who works on that thing, sits over there, and if I want to do this thing, I need his signature …’ but I cannot, for the life of me, remember his name.” – Sergei F.
  • “Learning something new is always difficult, especially if it’s with a new job where you have to pick it up ASAP. Names I find very hard to remember as well as simple directions or instructions. Studying at school and university was a nightmare.” Jonathan W.
  • “I am always losing basic everyday items. I can almost never remember where I put my keys down or my phone. I forget people’s names consistently. Sometimes I have ‘blank’ moments in my mind. Someone will say ‘Remember when we did this?’ and I just shrug and say sorry, no.” -Christine Jamieson, Miss Canada 2019, BCES Impact Speaker.

If you experience some of the things stated in the above quotes, have no fear! Simply check out our top 5 tips to help you improve your memory:

Tip 1 – Write down important items: Writing down important items will help remind you on a visual basis of things you may forget. There are a variety of techniques to be able to do this. Using an agenda or a planner can be helpful to write down dates and appointments. Post-it notes and white boards can also be useful tools for writing daily notes around your house. Putting these in common areas such as your bedroom, your bathroom, or by your front door will allow you your family to jot down important items quickly.

Tip 2 – Use medication reminder tools: Many people living with epilepsy may take multiple medications at various times throughout the day. Remembering to take your medications is very important as missing a dose of medication can be a trigger for seizures. ‘Day of the Week’ pill boxes can provide a quick, easy, and visual reminder to take pills. Another option for a reminder is to use an app on your phone, such as Medisafe, which is free and easy to use.

Tip 3 – Use a To-Do list: One thing that people often forget is the tasks that they are supposed to complete during the day or even throughout the week.  If you find yourself forgetting tasks you would like to get done, try creating a To-Do list. This can either be done using pen and paper, your phone or a calendar. There are also many apps available, including Todoist (for a simple layout) or Habitca (for a fun option)

Tip 4 – Keep your mind active: Keep your mind active with a variety of activities. Examples of this can be reading a book, playing solitaire, or word games. Challenging your brain with mental exercise is believed to activate processes that help maintain individual brain cells and stimulate communication among them.

Tip 5 – Organization: Use common sense when organizing your items, such as putting your keys on a key ring when you come home; always putting important items such as your phone in the same place every day; getting a filing cabinet and labelling the files, making it easier for you to find important documents, such as your bills or your passport; or using a purse, bag, backpack or briefcase that you can keep all of your everyday items in, such as your wallet.

If you’d like to learn more, please read an Information Sheet from the BC Epilepsy Society on Epilepsy and Memory here or past BC Epilepsy Society blog post on memory and epilepsy here. You can also watch a video presentation from the BC Epilepsy Society on Memory and Epilepsy here or the video recording of a BC Epilepsy Society webinar on Cognition and Epilepsy here, both of which were presented by Dr. Jing Ee Tan, PhD, RPsych, a neuropsychologist with Vancouver Coastal Health.

It is not uncommon for people living with epilepsy to report problems with their memory. We hope that our tips help you in improving your memory!

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