Could you benefit from a memory aid?

Memory aids act as prompts for stimulating recall, and they can be used by people of all ages. They can be useful for many, and they are often a common part of therapeutic treatment in sufferers of cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The limbic system contains many structures deep within the brain which all play a part in the development and storage of memories, so the fundamental goal of an aid is to boost function in these areas. Memory aids can be electronic or digital, making them an extremely accessible way to develop recall.

The Traditional Approach

A traditional memory aid is a physical item which stimulates recall, such as a calendar, diary or journal. Habits are associated with memory, as they can trigger routines which can contribute to improving memory. Traditional memory aids function in helping recall by providing physical signifiers, which are usually placed somewhere easy to locate and relatively visible. This builds a sense of familiarity with the location and the object, for example a diary placed on a bedside table builds a daily sense of recognition when either waking up or going to sleep. Other options include puzzle books such as Sudoku, or perhaps making a daily ‘to do’ list.

Modern Memory Aids

Over the last decade the ownership of mobile phones in the US has grown at a remarkable rate, as a survey carried out by Pew Research Center found that in 2011 only 35 per cent of people owned a smartphone, whereas in 2018 the figure reached 77 per cent. Memory aids are now accessible through a variety of digital formats, with interactive options such as applications and games. Mobile phones have digitized traditional items such as calendars and alarm clocks, making them useful for keeping records of dates and times of errands such as doctors’ appointments, or perhaps for providing a reminder to take medication at a certain time each day. Another useful feature is the voice recorder which is common on most phones, as information can be stored and played back later.

There are numerous electronic applications which can be readily downloaded onto mobiles, and they provide memory triggers such as alarms and reminders. The phenomena of ‘brain training’ has been adapted into games by companies such as Nintendo, which made memory aids a fun and interactive series of visual challenges for users of all ages to solve.

To get the most out of any kind of memory aid, the user should fit them into a daily routine and choose one which best suits their personal requirements. Either type of memory aid, or perhaps a combination of both, can be ideal for stimulating recollection.

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