Are you a fan of sticky notes? While this humble office supply can certainly help keep track of important tasks, there’s a built-in sticky note that helps you throughout your day without you even noticing. That’s right, your Working Memory is essentially a temporary sticky note in your brain, helping you to keep track of information while you’re in the middle of a task.
If you’re looking for compensatory strategies for Working Memory challenges, familiarise yourself with these targeted approaches.
Keep reading to find out more about Working Memory and the compensatory strategies we recommend to help bridge the gap with this cognitive function.
What is Working Memory?
Working Memory is a type of cognitive function that can be impaired after a stroke, traumatic brain injury, or other neurological damage. When you need to dial a phone number, write a shopping list, or follow a set of instructions you are making use of Working Memory.
Essentially, your Working Memory is what allows you to hold and manipulate information in your mind in the short-term. Working Memory is incredibly useful, allowing you to quickly add up how many plates you’ll need to set the table for dinner or how many apples you’ll need for your legendary apple pie recipe.
When our Working Memory is impaired, it can create challenges in daily organisation, problem solving, reading comprehension, and following instructions to name a few scenarios. Those with a degenerative condition, acquired brain injury, developmental condition or even ASD can experience challenges with Working Memory.
Over 80% of children with low Working Memory struggle in reading and mathematics at school. Working with a professional to develop a tailored therapy plan that targets Working Memory is worth exploring if this is a challenge you or a loved one are facing.
5 Compensatory Strategies for Working Memory Challenges
#1: Following an Organised Routine
Challenges with Working Memory can impact an individual’s ability to concentrate on tasks throughout the day and week. A useful compensatory strategy for this is to set, follow and maintain a predictable routine and structured environment.
For an adult, this may look like incorporating checklists and reminders and following a set daily routine. For children, it can be useful to get things visual and create an interactive visual schedule with pictures and words representing each daily task. In both examples this strategy gives the individual the opportunity to look at the daily schedule to “remember” what is coming up next, or to recall what task they were in the middle of completing.
#2: Keep Your Space Clutter-Free
Doing your best to keep your space clutter-free can be an effective compensatory strategy for Working Memory challenges. An untidy home environment or bedroom may cause things to be lost more easily which can be distressing for someone experiencing Working Memory challenges.
#3: Put Regular Medications in Dosette Boxes
If you or your loved one needs to take medication on a regular basis, and need a compensatory strategy due to Working Memory challenges, a Dosette box is a great option.
You’ve likely spotted a Dosette Box in your local pharmacy before. They are a plastic tray which organises your medications into separate compartments for different days of the week or even different times of the day.
This can help to ensure that medications are taken on time, and as frequently as they are required to be effective.
#4: Make Use of Memory Aids
As we mentioned earlier, children with low Working Memory often struggle with mathematics and reading. In this situation a useful compensatory strategy for Working Memory can be the use of external Memory Aids.
Examples of external Memory Aids include visual posters of multiplication tables, visual posters of the correct spelling of commonly used words, and even visual posters of academic task directions.
Another option available to children in the classroom is the use of computer software programs that can serve as memory aids by recording lesson instructions or helping students to keep track of where they’re up to.
#5: Reduce the Memory Load
Completing tasks both at home and in the classroom can be a challenge for someone experiencing difficulties with Working Memory. Compensatory strategies should be used to reduce the memory load required for task completion and to allow the individual to follow along at their own pace.
Useful strategies to reduce the memory load of large tasks include:
- Break large tasks into smaller chunks
- Keep new information or instructions brief and to the point
- Provide written directions for reference during task completion
We hope you found these compensatory strategies for working memory useful. If you’d like tailored suggestions and a supporting therapy plan to help improve working memory for yourself or a loved one, get in touch with our friendly team today.