Memory & Treatment for Memory Problems

Treatment for memory problems depends on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. Common treatments include lifestyle changes, medication, and other therapies.

Lifestyle strategies that can be helpful for people with memory impairments include the following:

  • Avoid hurrying (rushing)
  • If possible, be open about memory problems so others will be more patient
  • Follow a routine
  • Label important items and/or their locations (e.g., photographs, pictures, and items in kitchen cupboards and dresser drawers)
  • Use memory aids (e.g., personal digital assistants [PDAs], digital clocks, answering machines, lists, calendars, pill boxes, maps)
  • Use memory techniques (e.g., mnemonic devices, repeat key information, make associations with landmarks or pictures)

Some types of memory loss are treated with medication. In some cases, making adjustments in current medications can help improve memory problems. This happens frequently with epilepsy patients who experience memory issues as a side effect of epilepsy medications.

Commonly-prescribed medications for Alzheimer's disease include tacrine (Cognex), rivastigmine (Exelon), galantamine (Razadyne), donepezil (Aricept), and memantine (Namenda). Some doctors prescribe donepezil for patients with mild cognitive impairment.

Most types of amnesia are not treated with medication. Some amnesia patients find occupational therapy helpful, as they are able to relearn information that has been lost and use memories that remain to build new ones. Memory training teaches amnesia patients how to organize the information they take in, process this information, and build upon it. Music therapy can help some dementia patients with behavioral issues, helping them to remain calm or to reconnect with positive emotions that are drawn out through music.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 28 Dec 2008

Last Modified: 25 Sep 2015