Memory involves many parts of the brain, and if a brain aneurysm rupture or treatment damages any of those areas, your memory will be affected.
Survivors of ruptured aneurysms usually do not remember the event or much of what happened in the hospital, and never will. This can be disconcerting but is normal.
Many survivors regain their ability to remember as they continue to heal, while some continue to have difficulty with short-term or working memory for years. Survivors might remember events from ten years ago but cannot seem to remember who called yesterday or where they put their keys.
Absorbing, storing, and recalling information are some of the challenges survivors face after a rupture or treatment of a brain aneurysm. Learning new material in general may be difficult. Some have difficulty with something called prospective memory, which is the ability to remember future events. Here are several strategies for coping with these issues.
To help absorb information:
- Link — associate new information with old information.
- Simplify — avoid sensory and language overload. Shorten sentences for easier understanding; break up large pieces of information in order to focus better.
- Use apps that help with memory or record new information on your smartphone. Write down notes or memos to help jog your memory.
To help store information:
- Repeat and rehearse — immediately after someone says something or you learn something new, repeat it to yourself. Then wait a few minutes, and repeat it again to see if you remember.
To help recall information (this is hardest for most survivors):
- Organize — Use a daily planner, calendar, or device such as a smartphone to schedule your day. Never before were “sticky notes” so important. Invest in several packages of these. You can also consider an audio recorder or use your smartphone’s recording function if that will help you remember things.
- Written plan and “notes-to-self” — Write down all important information, such as doctor appointments, social engagements, birthdays and other important events, and medication schedules.
- Create a personal data bank — Create a central database to access addresses, phone numbers, and any other information that you will need to meet with people (including doctors and therapists) and recall what specific discussions you had with them.
- Routine — Recovering from serious illness requires a healthy and well-planned routine. Routines solidify and anchor memories, so they can be recalled much more quickly and with less frustration. Put important items such as keys in the same place each and every time.
- Regular reviews — Each evening, review your day’s events and recall specific details.
- Play — Crossword puzzles, word searches, and other games help with information recall.