Fact sheet #15 Epilepsy and Memory

Dealing with memory issues is challenging for most people at some point in their lives, and for
people with epilepsy it is not unusual. Memory loss can occur because of seizure activity within
the brain, which disrupts memory processes, and sometimes because of the use of antiepileptic
drugs (AEDs) which can cause drowsiness or attention problems. In most cases AEDs
control seizures, which helps improve memory.

Any type of epileptic seizure could potentially affect memory during and after a seizure, but the
most common reason for memory loss is abnormalities in the temporal and frontal lobes. The
length of time it takes to regain memory after a seizure varies from person to person, and in
some cases the memory can be permanently affected.

Memory allows us to retain things that we have learnt, selecting the relevant information we
need, discarding that which is irrelevant and encoding the information in categories. We are
then able to store that information and retrieve it when needed. However, during an epileptic
seizure that natural process of inputting and retrieving information is interfered with. The more
seizure activity a person has means that he or she is likely to experience more memory issues.
The use of AEDs helps to minimise that memory disruption by controlling seizure activity.

Practical tips for managing memory problems

  1. Write down ideas, suggestions, dates, appointments, information etc. in a small notebook which is carried at all times.
  2. Have a “To Do” list which records daily tasks, people to contact, bills to pay etc.
  3. Mark down appointments, birthdays, and important events down on a calendar.
  4. Attach messages to your front door to remind you of something important.
  5. Use your phone alarm to remind you when to take medication or appointments.
  6. Use your phone for GPS readings of where you are travelling and where you live.
  7. Organise your medication in a weekly pill box. (These are available at the chemist.)
  8. Ask for phone call appointment reminders from your doctors, hair dressers etc.
  9. Ask friends for reminders

How to make those neurons work!

  1. Meet up with old and new friends for stimulating conversations and emotional support. Social interactions boost brain functions requiring memory and attention.
  2. Learn a new skill, hobby, or language.
  3. Join a social or sports or hobby group, or book club, or night class.
  4. Speed up the time it takes for you to solve crosswords, Sudoku, Scrabble, word finds, etc.
  5. Play online games such as Tetris.
  6. Do a jigsaw puzzle to improve coordination and spatial thinking.
  7. Harness your long-term memory by going through old photo albums and focusing on the positive. Scrapbooking is a way of preserving those precious memories.
  8. See a problem as a challenge to be conquered by breaking it down into achievable steps so that you are not overwhelmed. Seek help. “A problem shared is a problem halved.”
  9. Play memory games, like the one below. You can play it on your own or with others. Give yourself a time limit.
  10. Choose a long word out of a magazine or newspaper and see how many smaller words you can make from it. e.g. Performance (perform, man, or, form, for, romance, pane, ran, prance, reef, face, perm, ace, ram…)
    Choose a random letter of the alphabet Country name Capital city Language Animal Plant Boy’s name Girl’s name
    e.g. H Hungary Helsinki Hindi Hare Hydrangeas Harry Harriet
  11. Get plenty of sleep for your age.
  12. Eat well
  13. Have a positive outlook and enjoy life




Face and Name Game
Do you have difficulties remembering faces and names? Try this little activity and practice doing it in real-life. Be discrete! Have fun.

Choose a face.

      1. Describe that person to yourself. Mention hair colour/style, facial features, glasses, earrings etc.
      2. Repeat the name of the person, as often as possible. Write his/her name down.
      3. Hide the photo and see how much you can remember.
      4. Draw it on the face shape below. How much can you remember about that person?



Disclaimer: this fact sheet is for education purposes only. Please consult your doctor or other health professional for advice regarding your epilepsy.
Last modified: March 23rd, 2018 by EWCT | Posted in: Fact Sheets