For caregivers, memory loss? Expected time frames?

Hello, my dad had a brain aneurysm rupture in September of 2021. After being his caregiver for over a year, I was wondering how long it took for others to regain some of their short term memory? He still is working on holding the ability to have a conversation longer than 3 minutes, struggles to remember information you told him 5 years ago, or even simple details of his life right before his rupture. Does this ever get better? Am I being to anxious? I’ve read that some people do regain this ability but it can take YEARS. I also don’t want to be too hopeful if It will never get better. And if anybody has some therapies to help this I would appreciate it. Thank you.

Hey Bri,
The brain is a very unique organ. For some people some things can come back almost unaffected , but for others those changes can be catastrophic. The recovery from a brain injury is unlike any other type of injury. I use a theory I call the ‘Broken Bone Theory’. ie You break your leg, you go to hospital, they plaster it up. 6-8 weeks later and it’s all healed. But we’re talking about brain matter, not bone and the healing takes time. How much time? That’s a ‘How long is a piece of string?’ type question, there’s just too many variables.

My memory (once one of my better assets) has up an vanished. I often joke with the wife “There’s nothing wrong with my memory… …who are you again?” And yea, it’s a joke. But sometimes, poof, and it’s gone. I have good days and bad days and I never know just what today will present. On a good day I can recite the periodic table, on a bad day I’m lucky to remember my own name. Add some sort of stress to the day ie a headache and I can get frustrated and become (metaphorically) explosive, someone ask me the wrong question at the wrong time and my already short fuse, ignites. BOOM!!!

Over time I have learnt how to better manage. Learnt how to read my own signs, how to pace myself (better). My last major neurosurgery was back in '13 and I still have those good days vs bad days. And on bad days I hibernate, it safer for everybody.

As for therapies, sometimes repetition can help. There are some sites online that offer ‘Brain Games’ such as Lumosity that can assist. Also going through photo albums of events can trigger memories and the process of triggering those memories can trigger other thought patterns.

Hope it helps
Merl from the Modsupport Team

2 Likes

@b_lloyd4 cognition is a tricky fella. Memory comes in several stages and not all are agreed upon, basically it’s three types, short, working and long term memories. There’s several parts of the brain that deals with memory and they’re connected by neurons. Parts of the Brain Involved with Memory | Introduction to Psychology This site will give a lot on the brain, but you will have to search it. This is an older paper that explains probably more than you want on memory types What are the differences between long-term, short-term, and working memory?
To me, it sounds like your Dad is still having issues with his neurons relaying information which is and was my experience.

After rupture I experienced a vast decrease in memory. Like Merl, I had a very good memory. I could not only recall a conversation, I could recall it verbatim along with what everyone was wearing, the weather etc to the dismay of many. I once was testifying and was asked to name the prescriptions a person was taking. I closed my eyes and put myself back at the table and described the couple dozen or so meds, the amount of pills left in all the bottles and the five or so pharmacies they were purchased. The attorney questioning me said I couldn’t refer to my notes. My attorney objected the Judge overruled, I didn’t miss any. I couldn’t visualize after my rupture. I had to learn new tricks one being a photo for people who called me so it would come up on my cell phone so I could put a face to a name…

I could not remember how to sign my name. One time I had to go to the ER, went to sign in and was at a complete loss. BH started spelling my name which aggravated me to no end and said I know how to spell my name. But I didn’t have the words to tell anyone I couldn’t remember how to sign it. I looked away from the paper and was able to sign my name. It took me about a year I think to be able to look at a paper or one of those electronic signature pads to do something I had done tens of thousands of times.

Because my speech was effected, I had to play many games the Speech Therapist suggested. I could remember a definition, but not the word. If someone started suggesting words that wasn’t the exact one I wanted, my brain just shut down and no words came. Luminosity was one game, but she had children, so every week she provided a new game they found. Some were actually quite fun. For games, I suggest you look to any kids you know or go to the American Stroke Association site or any of the TBI sites. They will have a list that I’m hoping at least one will strike a fancy with your Dad.

We have a couple of friends that we used to play cards about once a month. I couldn’t remember how to play and they are kind enough to explain the rules each time we meet now days. Because I still have issues with visualization, you would beat me in games like Concentration (deck of cards face down and you flip two over to match them) or mancala. LOL

I ruptured in 2013 and still have issues with my memory. But compared to right after my rupture to now, it’s improved dramatically. Your dad may experience a bit of frustration with loss of memory, just give him time to get over it. If you have more than one person speaking with him, remember this can be very overwhelming and difficult for him to follow, especially if the radio, tv or street noise is thrown in.

Because he suffered his rupture and then a parenchymal stroke, he may have a lot of brain damage. Make sure he is staying appropriately hydrated and getting enough protein. If unsure the amount, ask a RDN or one of his doctors.

Best of luck, be patient, remember to breathe and don’t say things like Dad don’t you remember, we just had this conversation, it will only frustrate the both of you.

6 Likes

I was down about 6 weeks then one day bam it was back.

2 Likes