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Tips to Remember Names and Words


The other day I was thinking about memory and recall, which is a major factor in speech and language loss in aphasia. I remarked to a friend who told me he had great difficulty remembering names. He told me that as soon as he hears the name of a person, “it flies out the window of my brain.”

 That is very much how aphasia works, but usually it is hundreds of times worse. However, there is a discipline to remembering names, just as there are methods for stimulating speech and language recovery after an, aphasia or brain injury.

 Have you ever noticed that often, our memory ability has something to do with the importance we hold for whatever it is we wish to remember?

 Have you ever met someone and did not hold his or her name with you as important, versus meeting someone else who could be very important? I have found personally and observed in others that the more important the person is to you, the easier it is to remember, since there is a payoff in remembering the name.

 There are those who believe remembering names is a crucial aspect of living. Those who place great importance on their ability to remember names often do those little things each and every day to assure their memory and recall. But, it starts with the level of importance for remembering names.

 If you believe brushing your teeth is important, for some reason you do it each day. Likewise, if you believe that following speed limits while driving down the road is important, then you automatically obey the law. If you hold anything as “important,” often it gets done.

 The value in remembering names is very high for many people, but for others it is not. Likewise, the same principle to speech therapy and caregiver training. It is a discipline; knowing what to do to help your loved one or client speak again. One must take the time to learn the principles of speech and language stimulation and then them.

 What are the key factors in remembering names and speaking improvement?

  1. A sincere desire to obtain the skills in both and to practice them.
  2. Repeating the skills daily at every opportunity.
  3. Paying attention in the interaction when speaking. Stopping what you are doing or thinking to on the other person and taking the time to obtain and share the necessary information.
  4. Repetition. Any new name or vocabulary, whether it is a single word, phrase, or expression must be repeated out loud, often for it to be absorbed for later recall.
  5. Never being afraid to ask if you have forgotten the name or word-phrase and then repeating it again out loud. Finding a way to associate the name with the face or individual physical characteristics is important. I met Gloria the other day and found it easy to remember her name since one of my favorite songs when growing up was the same name. I also met Peggy, and since she is very stout and heavy, I associated the name of an animal with her name.

 Memory for a name, like the memory for words in speaking is something one can almost always improve by following specific methods and principles in a comfortable, non-threatening environment and not being confrontational in your approach. Speak or facilitate words and subjects that are very important to the person with the speaking difficulty and you will almost always find a better chance for memory and improved speaking. Most of us will remember words and information better if we are relaxed and not trying to recall or remember. Have you ever noticed that when you try to remember something when confronted, it can escape you, only to find a short time later when the pressure is off and you are in a relaxed environment that the memory emerges? The same concept occurs in speech therapy.

 Moshe Mark Ittleman is a speech language pathologist who has helped others improve their speaking for over 40 years. He wrote the Teaching of Talking to help caregivers and therapists learn methods to help others speak that took a clinical lifetime to master.



About Mark Ittleman

Mark Ittleman is a Senior Speech Language Pathologist and serves those with moderate to profound speaking difficulties. He consults with many of the best rehabilitation hospitals and now travels the country with his wife, and lectures at Universities, Hospitals, and Aphasia Organizations. He also consults with people all over the world with speaking difficulties and their families.
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