General Question

LC_Beta's avatar

Can I somehow learn to remember?

Asked by LC_Beta (1883points) June 10th, 2009 from iPhone

I had another question, but then I had to go fix a scanner, and now I’ve forgotten it. This kind of thing happens constantly.

But it’s not just the little daily things that I’m forgetting. People are constantly telling me about things we’ve done together in the past that I have zero recollection of. I forget people all the time, too. Twice this week I’ve introduced myself to people who said that we’d already met.

Don’t get me wrong – I somehow always remember to pay my bills, feed the cat, etc. I graduated college with honors. This is not affecting my ability to get by, but it does affect my interpersonal relationships and my self-esteem.

I have all sorts of tricks to help me out – many involving electronics (reminders, etc). Also, I learned early on that photos help me tremendously, and I believe it’s part of the reason I became a photographer.

So, what I want to know is: How can I improve my memory recall? Is there someone who can help me remember things from the past? AND, moving forward, what can I do today to help me remember today tomorrow? Does anyone else here have this problem?

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37 Answers

bythebay's avatar

Do you mind if I ask your age? Are you in generally good health and do you take any medications?

Aethelwine's avatar

I forget people all the time too. I’ll be talking to my best friend from grade school and she’ll say “remember this time and that time”. I’ll have to tell her no or I pretend to remember. My husband will have to remind me of things that we have done in the past. Like you, I get by fine with bills and such and I did well in school and college. It will be interesting to see what others suggest because I could use some help with this also.

noelasun's avatar

I also have this problem; I joke to my SO that I only know half of our relationship, and I’m only half kidding. I also am horrible with new people I meet.
I’ve found though that in my case, knowing I have trouble recalling names and faces had made me even lazier about it. I usually didn’t even try to remember names.

Since I started working (where not recognizing someone can get you in hot water fast) I’ve started writing down the names of the people I meet and keeping a journal daily.
It’s a hard habit to start, but since I’ve started, I’m finding I’m retaining things that happened a lot more.
Even if it’s not really detailed, whatever I’ve written helps jog my memory.

shadling21's avatar

I’m not a detail oriented person, and I frequently forget things like this too (maybe not to the same extent). I intend to invest in a Nintendo DS and the game Brain Age to improve my memory recall and stuff like that. I may borrow some books from the library, too.

I read a book a few years ago in which a witch taught her apprentice to pay close attention to the world around her by constantly asking her, “How many birds in that oak tree back there?” and “What colour was that girl’s scarf?” while on walks. Maybe you can find someone who can help you play these games too.

LC_Beta's avatar

I’m 23, and my only real health issues involve anemia, which I try to control through diet and supplements. I tend to have low blood pressure, as well. I
bike 10 miles a day.

I’m not taking any medications.

bythebay's avatar

Well, memory loss can be triggered by many things. Anemia can absolutely contribute to memory loss as well as a host of other things, including your low blood pressure. Is this a problem you’ve always had, or is it something new?

gymnastchick729's avatar

I have the same problem, but I found out that I am way to busy. Not necessarily doing something, but in my mind. I am thinking about too many things at once, causing me to forget the little details. Try to focus on one thing at a time.

LC_Beta's avatar

@bythebay – I’ve always been prone to anemia. I was hospitalized for it as a kid, but haven’t been since.

Phobia's avatar

The way I help remember things is finding patterns. When there’s something you want to remember, find a connection with something or someone you already know. Since you’re a photographer, write things down and read them. Take a “mental picture” of the words. Some people remember it better if it is said aloud. Everyone has tricks that help with memory, you just have to figure out which works best for you.

Doing puzzles and brain teasers can help also. Give your mind a workout regularly and it can help with memory.

As for recovering lost memories, I’m not sure what to advise. Try a meditation, maybe.

bythebay's avatar

A good place to start is a simple blood work up just to rule out anything medically related. If that shows nothing out of the ordinary, you could search out some memory recall techniques and since you are a visually stimulated person, that could help you narrow down what will work best for you.

SirBailey's avatar

I have this problem all the time! When I watch a movie that has actors I don’t know, by the end of the movie I don’t recognize them. People have to tell me “Oh, that was the guy who asked her in the beginning…”

And faces?! I am SO BAD with names and faces.

Also, if you’re anxious about not remembering something, that anxiety will interfere with your recall.

What was the question again?

LC_Beta's avatar

@bythebay – I’ve had a couple CBC (?) tests done before and have just been advised to take supplements. I’d say that about 25% of the time I try to donate blood they allow me to after checking my iron. Once a woman said, “get out of here and go see your doctor.”

noelasun's avatar

@LC_Beta I’m like this, my best friend is like this… and she (and my doctor) constantly assure me I’m fine. Maybe our brains are a little lazy? (or as @gymnastchick729 said, busy) I am however, afraid I may be susceptible to alzheimer’s earlier

LC_Beta's avatar

@SirBailey – the problem is sometimes helpful. I get to watch movies over and over and still be surprised :)

SirBailey's avatar

Like 50 First Dates? :)

LC_Beta's avatar

@SirBailey – ya lost me on that one. I don’t think I’ve seen that movie…

SirBailey's avatar

You DID! I took you!!! Don’t you remember??

LC_Beta's avatar

Here’s another problem: source amnesia. I can often make myself remember something when it’s very important or interesting, but I ant begin to recall how I learned it. Then I have to go back and research – I almost always prove to be right in these circumstances (I get this feeling that says “I KNOW this is true, but I can’t prove it yet”). But I envy people who can keep these things straight.

LC_Beta's avatar

@SirBailey – thanks for feeding my fears! :p No, really, I’m afraid sometimes that people will use this to my disadvantage (“I told you I’d edit your biography? For free? Well, okay…”)

SirBailey's avatar

All the more reason to get it checked.

SirBailey's avatar

And keep in mind, it’s not insurmountable. You can write things down, keep a diary… It’s not perfect but it’s a big help against things like people using it against you.

augustlan's avatar

Add my name to the list of forgetfuls. I use my phone calendar/reminders for almost everything. Names and people? I just tell people right up front that I’m horrible with names, and ask that they please forgive me if I ask repeatedly.

YARNLADY's avatar

WikiHow has an excellent article with tips and ideas on how to improve your memory

SirBailey's avatar

@augustlan, yep, I do the same with people and their names.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

I find that reading keeps my short term memory sharp.

Aethelwine's avatar

@bythebay I have been prone to anemia since I was a baby. With each pregnancy that I’ve had I had to take iron supplements. I didn’t even consider the possibility that it could be the cause of my memory lapses. I really need to get to my doctor too! Thank you for your help.

@LC_Beta I get to enjoy movies over and over again too. :)

LC_Beta's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic Really? How so? I am an avid reader, but I have to keep all my books and occasionally look over the notes and highlights I make while reading them, if I want to remember them.

augustlan's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic I read all the damn time. Then I forget I’ve already read the book and try to read it again!

LC_Beta's avatar

@jonsblond @augustlan Have you seen Memento? I always get a kick out of that one, considering my own little memory issues.

Aethelwine's avatar

@LC_Beta Yes! It confused me. Good movie.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Try to train yourself to develop a little quirk about lists, treat it as a game to see how OCD you can get with yourself to write things down as they come to you, to check the list, prioritize it and then actually do some of things written there.

augustlan's avatar

@LC_Beta Loved that movie! Of course I had to watch it three times to figure it all out…

LC_Beta's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence – my
problem doesn’t have as much to do with getting things done as it does with remembering details about what I’ve already done.

… in highschool I forgot I had a locker. The office asked me to go clean it out and I insisted that I’d never had a locker. I wouldn’t believe them until they opened it and some of my old belongings were in there – photos taped to the door and a couple school-books. I still don’t believe I had a locker…

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

@LC_Beta: it’s worth a try…

At some point during your day or as you relax before bed, envision your day as best you can from the time you got up to present. Relive the details, hopefully more good than bad and tell yourself, “I’ll never get this time spent back and I want to remember how I lived and what I felt.” It’s more mind gaming but sometimes works; after several decades, my own mother is starting to remember I don’t eat Mayonaise.

LC_Beta's avatar

Thanks, everyone. I will see my doctor as @bythebay suggests, and try some of these other suggestions to help me remember what’s going on from here out.

But what about learning to remember things in the past? @Phobia suggested a meditation – has anyone had success with this? I do meditate, lately for short periods of time but in the past for hours at a time. I’ve never used it to try to recall something, however. Usually I’m looking for a moment of Samadhi.

augustlan's avatar

Some people have success with hypnosis to recall the past.

bythebay's avatar

@LC_Beta & @jonsblond : I speak from having been there. I also developed severe anemia (during my first pregnancy), and have never really been able to get my levels back to normal. I do take a slow release iron tab…when I remember! I am especially careful during my periods as my irons levels become almost negligible. Good luck!

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