After a stroke, it’s common to find it difficult to concentrate or remember certain things. For example, you might struggle to focus on tasks like reading a book or watching a TV programme, or recall something someone’s just told you.  

Claire from our Helpline explains why, and shares some guidance:  

Why has my memory and concentration changed? 

Your brain has to constantly understand, organise and store information. If stroke damages the part of your brain that processes this information, you may experience problems with your memory and concentration.  

Sometimes memory problems can be caused by problems with concentration. If you find it difficult to focus on what you’re being told, you’ll struggle to remember it later. So improving your concentration may help with your memory. Emotional problems such as anxiety can also have an impact.  

Will it get better? 

Memory and concentration difficulties are usually worst during the early months following your stroke, but they can and do get better.  

The quickest improvements usually happen during the first three months when your brain is most actively trying to repair itself. Recovery tends to slow after this, but it can continue for months and years afterwards. Although some changes may never go away entirely, they shouldn’t get worse and many people find they get easier to live with.   

What can I do about my memory and concentration problems?  

  • Start by speaking to your GP. They can make sure that there isn’t anything else causing your problems, such as an infection or your medication. 
  • Take plenty of exercise. It’s good for your brain as well as your body and can help you emotionally too. 
  • Get lots of rest. It’s harder to concentrate when you’re tired. Try not to fit too much into one day and take breaks when you need to. 
  • Be open about the problems you’re having and let those around you know how they can help.  
  • Look into aids and equipment that can help you, especially with memory.  
  • Be kind to yourself. It’s nothing to feel embarrassed about. A stroke is a major brain injury. You’re still the same person even though things may be different for you now.   

Top tips  

  • Focus on finishing one task before moving on to another.  
  • Break longer tasks, like cooking, into shorter steps you know you can manage, and plan in rest times.  
  • Remove distractions. For example, turn off the TV or radio if you need to focus.  
  • Write or record a ‘to-do’ list to help you keep track of and prioritise tasks.  

Find out more 

Find more information and practical tips for dealing with memory and concentration problems. Or download our ‘Complete guide to cognitive problems after stroke’.   

Contact our Stroke Helpline on 0303 3033 100 or helpline@stroke.org.uk.  

Stroke News magazine 

This article is featured in the spring 2021 edition of our magazine, Stroke News. Subscribe to our future editions available in print, on audio CD, or via email. 


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