can modern technology and techniques compensate for poor short-term memory? I think so!
I would have so many things to remember; taking the shopping list, locking the house, finding parking, getting the actual things I needed from the shop, paying for things and remembering to take my card, remembering where the car was and successfully getting home in one piece with everything I needed was an unusual thing.
See my problem is that I have a very poor working memory I can literally only remember two things at a time any more and I start to forget things or I start to get stressed because I simply can't seem to live at that speed!
Added to the poor working memory problems, it seems like I have a problem in learning routine tasks. The saying is once you learn to ride a bicycle you never forget, I proved this wrong. Between the ages of seven and 15 I was regularly riding bicycles, at the age of 26 I bought myself a bike to help me get fit and when I got on it I had no idea how to ride or balance. It was like having to learn all over again!
The same would happen with meals I have cooked my whole life. There was some meals my mum had taught me to cook not once or twice but more like 10 times and they were ingrained in my head as I used to cook them at least once a fortnight for almost a whole year. After not doing them for months I now have no idea how to do them and I have no idea where I put the recipe notes ever since I moved house.
So when you're working memory is this bad where you can literally only remember a couple of things at a time. What can you do to gain a memory?
By all means try doing those exercises to improve your memory and learn techniques like mnemonics, where you memorise things by using more things to remember them by (I personally do find these useful for some things but too much of a hand-full for others).
Remembering how to spell words using mnemonics is easy. Whenever I spell 'said' I always think 'Sally Ann Is Dirty' in order to remember how to spell it. That was a word that I have always had problems with the child and even into my 20s, in fact I got it wrong right until I learned the mnemonic.
So mnemonics can be helpful but not for all situations. Mnemonics would be too much to help you remember what you need from the shops, how to get to the shops, where to park the car, how to pay, how to find the car, how not to forget your purse, and so on.
Even on a good day when I go shopping I am unlikely to have achieved everything I set out to do. In fact, many times I find I have left the keys in the engine while I've been in the shop, or I have left the shop and have been called back for my card, or more recently I felt so proud that I had the car keys in my hand that I had got my card back and as I went through my mnemonic to make sure I had everything I needed back in my bag I was called back because I had forgotten to pick up the shopping I had just paid for!
So the simple fact is that I cannot remember more than two things at once, in fact, I can only safely really remember one thing at a time. So here's a list of techniques are used and things I do to help me better manage my day-to-day life:
Learn to create your own mnemonics
Check purse C
lock house/car L
Use apps U
Check list/mobile C
* Whenever I leave a shop I remember 'CORKS'.
Check purse C
Open apps O
Re-check debit card R
Search for car S
Learn to create stories to help you remember sequences of events
* Make up stories to replace lists of directions in offices, hospitals multi-storey car parks and other large buildings. For example:
There was this guy who only had his LEFT leg. When he had the accident he had been taken STRAIGHT to hospital. Once there he was seen RIGHT away. They could not save his RIGHT leg but he manages just fine with his LEFT leg and now he has a new prosthetic - he's exactly where he wants to be!
I find remembering directions like this much easier than: left, straight ahead, 2 rights then left.
Techniques for helping you find your way when out and about in new places
* If you have a smart phone learn to use apps, whether on android or Iphones using the right apps can make your life much easier. I personally use my smart phone as a disability tool. It stops me from being disabled or handicapped by my lack of working memory. It stores all my apps, notes, diaries and internet sites that allow me to free my mind from the headache of having to continuously focus on remembering things and better still, it has alarms that can go off to remind me of things I should be doing or places I should be. The best bit is that carrying my smartphone around with me means I have all this technology in the one small gadget that I always have with me. No more having to carry notebooks, diaries, maps, camera, etc round with me!
WARNING - My phone frees me to think about nice things while I'm out and about. however, be careful you don't become over reliant on this technology because trust me, when it breaks down, shuts off or loses signal you can be left in a very scary place with all your support lost at once!
Some of my favourite apps
* Findmycar apps can help you identify your cars location and will give you the route back to it later when you need to find it. With this app you can relax about not finding a space in your favourite car park!
* asdplanner app helps you to not just construct lists of what you have to do but it also allows you to chunk each task down into it's more manageable components.
* If you have an IPhone then the find my iPhone app is essential! I can ring my husband, tell him I'm lost and he can find me on his phone and help me find where I'm going to. It's also especially useful for finding my phone when I forget where I left it!
* Also, if you have an iPhone 4s, or later design you will also be benefiting from its built-in voice recognition software, 'Siri'. Siri is like a friend you talk to who does things for you on the phone. From opening apps, writing notes, doing internet searches and taking dictation for emails and messages, Siri is there to help! My husband always laughs at me because when I use Siri I don't just ask it do stuff, we chat about all kinds of things.
And lets not forget the apps that help to keep me alive!
With a working memory as poor as mine taking medication has always been a serious concern for me. The old dosette boxes that allow you to separate the tablets out into AM and PM and the days of the week are great but they don't remind me when to take them and they don't tell me later whether or not I remembered to take them. At least not unless I remember to look at the box which is usually out of sight as I have small children in the house. Dosette boxes are of course still useful and I do actually still use one myself but with the following app even taking medication has become safer!
* RxmindMe app is designed to help you manage your medication. Thanks to this app my phone has an alarm set to remind me when I'm meant to take my medication and as it needs to be ticked off when the task is completed I always know if I've actually had the tablets or not! Plus it can remind me to take my inhaler which never fit into a dosette box and was always forgotten till the next asthma attack!
Final thought to leave you with
Our achievements are not limited by our 'abilities' but by our choices to limit our own experiences!