Memory after SAH

Hi all,

I’m trying to hear some encouraging words on memory after a rupture. I understand that it depends where the aneurysm was, although I can’t say for certain where it was. My mom is 61 yrs old and had a rupture last September, which is about 8 months ago. My mom is extremely lucky to be alive but her memory is awful… She can’t recall something that happened earlier in the day or future events. She had a notebook but she can’t seem to use it consistently.

It breaks my heart because I want my mom back. I feel like she isn’t the same person anymore. Again, I know this sounds extremely selfish of me to say because she survived – that should be enough. I’m only 25 and am her caregiver on top of working, college, and trying to be there for my own daughter and husband.

Right after her clipping surgery, she couldn’t recognize me and was speaking nonsense for quite a while, so I believe she has made progress. She has a look in her eye that is like she’s a lost soul. She says she wakes up in the night and looks around to try to figure out where she is. We were eating at the dinner table and she looked at my daughter and asked where her sister was … I only have one child. I try so hard to keep it together but I cry so much…

Is it true that memory comes back slowly, or is this going to be her “new normal?”

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Mine came back mostly. It’s a lot of work. I can visualize now just a little bit, after rupture I couldn’t at all. There are different games that can help, there are different therapies that can help. My speech therapists have been remarkable! They have given me several tools to help. I have to follow them. If I have my day planned, it’s in my smart phone as I’m not allowed to go without it. One of the things that makes life easier is to be consistent. Use sticky notes, white boards, her phone if she has one. Make sure she stays hydrated as it helps our brains more than I can say. We tend to not drink as much water as we should the older we get.


Hey Crystal,
Sorry to hear of you and your mother’s situation, becoming the carer/parent of a parent is never easy. That change in roles can be extremely challenging for anyone.

When it comes to the brain and recovery 8mths is still early in the whole recovery process and that ‘recovery’ may fluctuate from day to day (heck, it can fluctuate from hour to hour). I can awake very clear, but as the day progresses, my symptoms tend to regress. It can VERY much depend on many things, firstly is sleep. If I have a bad night of sleep, the following day can be awful. Diet can have an impact. Bright light can have an impact. Loud noise can have an impact. Even the weather can have an impact and that’s just to mention a few. I often explain it like this " In science A+B=C is a common rule. With neurology it’s more A+B-C/DxE F… there can be just SO many variables. Sometimes you may see glimpses of the ‘Old Mom’ only for that to disappear as quick as it came, but don’t lose hope, she is still there.
This can seem as an insurmountable obstacle for you, but I can assure you, it is even more so for your Mom and her acceptance of the realities of it all only adds to it all. The frustration of the realities can be a real struggle for everybody involved and LOTS of patience will be needed.

As for memory… …ohh dear… …mine was chronic bad. I’ll say that now, but I’d never admit it at the time. And if someone mentioned just how bad my memory was I’d get annoyed. Some things I’d retain, where others would just evaporate. I’d jokingly turn to my wife and say ‘There’s nothing wrong with my memory… …Who are you again??’ and we’d laugh about it, but in my case it was a little sarcastic laugh because I know my memory can be terrible.

I’m now 7yrs on since my last neurosurgery and things are still improving. Am I back to where I was before? No. Will I ever be? Probably not, well not fully. But when I consider where I was at post surgery, I’ve come a long way. It has NOT been an easy journey, not at all. There has been lots of backward steps but along the way I have learnt what works (And what doesn’t) for me. We are all individual, so what may work for me may not for your Mom and vice versa. It really can be a case of trial and error.

Hope it helps
Merl from the Moderator Support Team


Crystal, I hope I can give some encouragement. I was 55 when mine ruptured and I’m 62 now. Immediately following the rupture my memory wasn’t quite as bad as you describe your mother but mine was pretty bad. It takes time but I found certain things help speed things along for me. Mine improved the most as soon as I was able to start walking for exercise, especially if it was outside. Getting a good night’s sleep is huge and when getting overtired it will get temporarily worse. Basically, using her brain and memory as much as possible even if she needs supervision for awhile will build new neurons. I like to cook and messed up some recipes but just kept trying until I could get it right. Reading is good even if she can’t remember it afterward. I take B12 and eat many of the “super foods”, can’t tell if that helps but can’t hurt. I always use a timer with alarm when cooking, even now (just don’t go beyond hearing of the alarm). Main thing is for her to stay in a safe environment. Never light candles. Create a checklist for when leaving the house and put it somewhere it would be seen. Things like turn off stove, faucets, lock doors, etc. I use my phone for grocery lists and to do lists, and use the calendar with reminders for everything. Everyone is different but it gradually gets better. 8 months is still very early in the journey. I’m not 100% back to pre-rupture but most people can’t even tell now, only me and my husband notice anymore. The brain has an amazing ability to heal but it is very slow. The key is to never give up.


Crystal, I hope this might help. I had a ruptured aneurysm in 2012, I was hospitalized and in care for a year and recall none of it and barely reember much of months before the bleed. over the years memory of many things has returned, but I still have short term problems, worse when I’m tired or ill or anxious. I have some exec. deficits which trouble me as I used to teach, and loved to dig deep into intellectual matters. Now it is difficult to do some simple tasks and hobbies that I enjoyed, but I’m learning about the new me, mourning what was lost, and love it when I gather a forgotten memory. I was not able to return to work or school, but have found libraries, book groups, support groups and new interests and new friends for the ones who left with impatience. I wish you best for your mom, it takes time, it seems bleak at first. Keep humor, find good counselors, help and loyal patient friends, working through grief stages is necessary for her losses and yours in the relationship as well. Best wishes, KD

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Hi. I should probably have one of my daughters respond so you can get their perspectives. My rupture happened almost two years ago. As my story indicates, I am fortunate to be here too. My memory was also not as bad as you describe your mother’s. My long term memory was really not too bad. My short term was not good. If I apply some percentile figures, maybe I was 50% retention. I would say that at six months out, I was 75% retention. And now, I am probably 90-95% retention. That was after 9 months of OT. I’m not sure it would have improved without the therapy. So if your mom isn’t in therapy, I strongly suggest she try to get some. If she has been shut off, then you might need to advocate that she needs additional help. The threshold is that they need to see improvement and potential. My therapy gave me many ques and aids, but everyone is different and while many aids are the same the Therapyst will know how to help.

I can tell you that my family, my wife and three daughters, all later expressed many of the same frustrations that you have identified. As has been said, patience is critical. That said, I will also say that I am beginning to accept the “new normal”. Mostly because it is difficult to get your hopes up for continued improvement only to not see that improvement. I am not saying your mom is there because the recovery period can be 3-5 years. Every time I asked when I would see recovery, the period expanded. First six months, then 6-12 months, then 1-2 years and now I’m being told 3-5 years. So patience and diligence are your goals. That and prayers. Lots of prayers. God bless you all.


My ruptured aneurysm was almost 3 years ago. I’m a couple of years older than your Mom. My short term memory is still not great, but there are some areas that are improving. Give her time. One day at a time.


I had terrible post coiling aneurysm surgery which leads to brain stem compression. It is unruptured aneurysm.
Everyone is different and also, everyone is having different life journey. Last April I celebrated 2 year anniversary, I could not believe how I am now , even though it is still not perfect. Just take it what we are getting it and keeping moving forward. Praising and thanksgiving!


I had a ruptured aneurysm nearly 4 years ago. 2 surgeries since. I recall little of my time in hospital and went back to work too soon. I was surprised to see my handwriting in my note book when i reviewed it, but the notebook was essential to keep me on track. The bright side is that I do not know what I forgot, my family is very gentle in remembering for me. It seems I enjoyed much. I love watching movies, have quite a collection, it’s kind of nice to watch them for the first time again.
I attribute memory retention to early reinforcement, that is practice and repeat. For example, I teach martial arts. I teach Karate and Kobudo. Kobudo is the use of weapons. I was terrified in the hospital that I would lose both of these skills. I was not able to practice weapons. But I did get out of bed once I could, wires and all to practice my Karate everyday. My nurses did not like that. However I can tell you today I have 90% of my Karate and much more than the 30% of my Kobudo memories I once had. It is getting better each day but it is slow. Be patient, be gentle, reminisce together, tell her stories from your youth. This helps me to enjoy now, keeps me from feeling sorry for myself and lets me know my family loves me.
All the best.


My daughter is 27 and got ruptured a year ago. Her long term memory is intact, except for a year prior to the rupture is still foggy. Her short term memory is still deficit as she cannot still remember what she ate for her meals still after 2 hours. It is getting better thou, before she would forget right after 5 seconds. I heard it will be getting better with therapies so I hope your mom’s will soon be too.

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Hi try

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Thank you! You’re right that the key is to never give up. My mom’s doctor encourages me to place my mom in an assisted living, which is extremely hard for me to consider because I don’t want to give up on my mom. I also don’t want it to consume my life either. Did you ever return to driving?

My heart goes out to you. That would be extremely difficult to see your daughter go through this. My mom could only retain something for about 5 seconds too in the beginning. I remember the speech therapist telling my mom where she was then asking my mom directly after. My mom would say something different every time. Does your daughter receive Speech and Occupational therapies?

Thank you to everyone who replied. It brightens my day every time I get a response. I will refer to this forum when I start to get a little down about my mom’s progress. No one around me seems to understand what I am feeling, so it is amazing how complete strangers can give me a little peace. I wish I could give all you a huge hug. I wish all of you keep moving in the right direction!

Yes, it is so difficult for us to see our daughter in this condition, but looking at the bright side, she is still with us and able to communicate pretty much normally. Her case was quite severe, but she has made a great progress. Yes, she has been working with great PT, OT & Speech therapists. Thou, it has been a year, so she is temporarily being discharged from the outpatient rehabs and will have an evaluation 6 mos later. In the mean time, we sign her up with the clinics run by near home universities. The student therapists are young and around her age, so she has a lot of fun with them and the students have also learned a lot from working with brain injured patient as Amy. We’re in an opposite shoes here. You’re 25 and so young and lots of responsibilities on your shoulder, and mom is so young to be in the assisted living. You may need to look into getting some help at home since it takes time for the brain to heal, and you don’t want to be drained out. Check out your local government to see if it has the in-home service program which can assist in your mom’s case. Best of luck to you!!!


Virtual hugs are still allowed! So sending you, your mom and everyone else one!

What wonderful advice lytran! It reminded me that our local Hospice has respite beds and are used for some non terminal adults. It may be under their palliative care program.

You might want to see if there’s an Adult Services at your county DHHS and/or check into an Adult Day Care program. We have one in our little county. The gentleman who runs it used to be in Adult Protective Services. He said I could join when we were looking into it for my parents. They usually can just charge Medicare and not dip into the client’s money. If the client is wealthy, they will have to pay a percentage which isn’t much.

Hi Crystal, I had my surgery almost 5 years ago. I had a year of “fast” memory return and a year of “slower”memory return. After that it was about as much of the old memory as I was going to “get”. In my case I was well enough to live alone again, drive, take care of my dog, regain college level reading, although my spelling is grade level again…

I go to a psychology, at first every week, then every two weeks, and lately once a month… If I lived with anyone else I would also try some group sessions, in addition to the individual ones…

Also I would ask your mother’s doctor and/or psychologist about how long in your case it will be… and of course we can all continue to change at the usual rate for a persons live? You might also ask your mother’s medical staff if they have an idea of how much she may regain…? In the beginning I was in a wheelchair speaking gibberish… I know I was one of the better ones, unfortunately for those who don’t…

I hope and pray for all of you to make things go well!!!

Take care! :pray::+1:,


Great advice, im 6 1/2 years post SAH, and yes, memory is still an issue. Usually worse when tired. My speech slurs as well when I’m tired, and I’m very clumsy and off balance. Don’t give up, it gets better. This is our new normal. We have to embrace it and laugh at ourselves sometimes. It’s okay. We are still us, we’re just different in the way we do things. It’s hard, but except her where she is. Let her be as Independent as she can be, give help when needed. Be her support system, that’s the best thing you could do. Let her know she’s still special. She probably has her own internal battle going on, at least that’s what I had. Hang in there.:pray:t4: Take one day at a time.:heart:

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