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Strategies to Support Memory and Daily Cognitive Functioning


Notebooks and a pencil: one of the ways to improve memory

Perhaps the most common question we get, as neuropsychologists, is: “how can I improve my memory?” Today's blog post will focus on strategies for supporting memory and daily cognitive functioning. Come back for next week's post, which will address brain health for the purpose of improving or maintaining neurocognitive abilities, including memory.


Most of us would benefit from using cognitive strategies to support memory, but what works for one individual may not work for another. Many factors, including whether a person has any neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions, will affect which strategies are likely to be effective. One of the best ways to identify which strategies are best for you, based on your background and your set of cognitive strengths and weaknesses, is by completing a neuropsychological evaluation. Our evaluations, which include ADHD testing and Autism testing, are followed by individualized feedback and tailored recommendations. Here are some strategies that may support your memory and cognition:


Strategies to Support Memory and Daily Functioning:


Make a conscious effort to attend to the present moment. For example, you can speak out loud to yourself, in order to focus and bring your mind into the present moment (“It is Monday morning at 9:00 and I am taking my medication” or “After paying this bill, I am going to write the amount in my checkbook register.”)

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Avoid multitasking and complete one task at a time. Use a to-do list or electronic reminder to take a quick note of tasks that come to mind and then return to the task at hand. If you do have to step away from something you are working on, make a note of where you left off or set an electronic reminder to cue you to return to the task.

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Break large tasks into smaller, written steps. Check off the steps as you complete them to help you keep track and remember where you left off.

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Use structure and organization in your environment. Designate a place in your home for important items used everyday (e.g., keys, glasses, phone, daily planner). Make a habit of always returning objects to their designated place as soon as possible. An organized environment also decreases the likelihood that you’ll get distracted, overstimulated, or overwhelmed.

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Use routines to minimize the burden on memory. Habits do not require as many cognitive resources and are therefore less likely to be forgotten. Routines can be related to time and location. For example, taking medications in the same location in the home and at the same time of day. Paying the bills or balancing the checkbook on the same days of the month and in the same location in the home is another example. Even leisure activities such as taking a walk or doing a cognitive activity can be part of a daily/weekly routine.

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When attempting to learn/remember new information:

  • Repeat or paraphrase it to the other person, to ensure accuracy and likelihood of encoding.

  • Repeat it to yourself and attempt to contextualize the information (put it into a story, visualize it).

  • Chunk large amounts of information into smaller, manageable pieces.

  • Organize and categorize new information (categorize your grocery list into produce, meat, dairy, pantry, etc.).

  • Use association (e.g., when learning a new name- associate it with someone you already know; when attempting to learn a new habit or function- associate it with a well-rehearsed habit like brushing teeth or making coffee).

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Written and electronic reminders reduce the cognitive burden placed on you to remember. A pocket notebook, daily planner, or smartphone can be conveniently carried outside of the house and used to keep a to-do list and to take note of important information that needs to be remembered.

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Message boards/sticky notes, in moderation, can help you remember day-to-day tasks. These reminders should be placed in areas that are clearly visible and likely to be noticed at the appropriate moment for retrieval, such as near the front door or on the refrigerator.


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And for strategies specific to folx with ADHD, check out this blog post:


Again, one of the best ways to identify which strategies are best for you, based on your background and your set of cognitive strengths and weaknesses, is by completing a neuropsychological evaluation. To schedule an evaluation or a free consultation with one of our neuropsychologists, please reach out to us:


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