Memory Tip: Take a Picture

During a recent Road Scholar program at Chautauqua Institution, one of the participants offered a suggestion for a memory glitch many have dealt with at one time or another. Where did you park the car?  Solutions have included using the car key remote so you can follow the beep or lights coming on. That works best if you exit the correct door at the mall or a major event. Years ago a woman shared her best solution. She took the bus home when she became frustrated trying to locate her car. She had a friend drive her back to the parking lot when the mall was closed when there were very few cars left.  One gentleman uses the voice recorder on his cell phone to describe the location. Another person writes it down and slips the information in his pocket. It is likely that the airport parking businesses decided giving you a ticket with the location of your car could save everyone a lot of time. As long as you pay attention to where you put the reminder, your return home should result in not only getting the right company but a quicker drive to your car.

The gentleman at Chautauqua suggested taking a photo with your phone that reveals some meaningful landmark that can be seen from your car. I am pretty good at providing memory tips but this one I had not thought of and I liked it. If you do not a have a phone or prefer not to use a memory prop, do it the easy way. Take a picture in your mind. That means paying attention then noticing a few more details. Otherwise you probably focus on finding the space and immediately jump ahead to what is on your to do list.  Having not paid attention one rainy day to which store entrance I used, I walked for awhile because I went out the wrong door!  That was a great reminder for me so now I automatically notice what department I entered so at least I go out the correct door. Automatic pilot gets us all the time since lots to do is often the issue or the distraction of chatting with someone is another common reason.

Make the picture vivid and silently describe where you are so you are using the rule of paying attention 5 to 10 seconds for enhanced recall.  When you add a picture to the words you are thinking, you are more likely to be successful.

Take a picture in your mind when you put something away. Notice what is in your hand and capture a visual image as you lay it down temporarily. If you are parking the car in a large lot, try the picture taking strategy with your phone. If you are in a parking garage, use it to take a picture of the identifying information posted for your section.

A good snapshot stops a moment from running away.  Eudora Welty

Quick Link to all blogs and Memory Toolkit.  For more tips refer to Walking the Path to Memory Fitness One Week at a a Time.

About Kathryn Kilpatrick

Kathryn Kilpatrick received her Master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 1968 from the University of Massachusetts. She has worked in a variety of settings, primarily in Ohio, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and for decades in the area of home health care. Kathryn is president of Memory Fitness Matters ( and Communication Connection( She offers memory coaching for all ages and has a geriatric consulting practice. She is a national motivational speaker and author of more than 30 products to enhance communication and connection as well as a Memory Fitness Toolkit. Kathryn brings her decades of experience as a speech-language pathologist to all those wanting to enhance their quality of life, particularly when there are communication, memory and cognitive challenges. Her websites offer information on a wide variety of topics related to elder care concerns as well as memory fitness and successful aging.
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