How Therapy can Potentially Treat Memory Loss
I’m sure from time to time we’ve all experienced lapses in our memory. Perhaps we’ve entered a room and forgotten the reason why, or we’ve forgotten to pack something we meant to for a trip. However, if these lapses are recurrent and frequent then it might be more than mere forgetfulness at work. Memory loss can range from mild to extreme. After all, there’s a difference between forgetting to buy milk at the grocery store and forgetting something far more important like a doctor’s appointment or skipping a meal because we’ve forgotten to eat. As with many other ailments, the key to treating memory loss is to strike immediately as a problem is identified. Waiting longer means that it will only get worse. Memory loss is not something that will simply resolve itself over time, luckily there are a number of treatments available to help treat memory loss and keep it from worsening.
Using Therapy to Treat Memory Loss
Dr. Diane Roberts Stoler is a board certified health psychologist, neuropsychologist, board-certified sports psychologist, and trauma therapist with over 35 years of experience. In 1990 Dr. Stoler suffered a stroke while driving, resulting in a head-on auto collision at 60mph. Since then, Dr. Stoler has undergone brain surgery and sustained two more concussions. Dr. Stoler uses her experience and expertise to help educate individuals on brain health and fitness as well as how to recover from significant trauma. She also discusses how to overcome memory loss as a result of either injury or disease. According to Dr. Stoler, there are three methods of treatment in total: “conventional, complementary and alternative. This classification is based on insurance reimbursement. Almost 98% of conventional methods are covered by insurance, while at least 50% are covered by complementary and 0% for alternative approaches.”
Fortunately for individuals suffering from memory loss, therapy is classified under conventional methods, meaning that for the most part it can be covered under insurance. Two of the most successful therapies used to treat memory loss are Cognitive Therapy (CT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
While both are covered by most insurances, these treatment methods are actually quite different. Cognitive Therapy is conducted by a Speech and Language Pathologist and assesses the treatment of cognitive skills. These include memory and attention and executive function, which refers to an individual’s ability to plan, sequence, organize, problem-solve, decision-make, initiate, and be self-aware. Cognitive Therapy trains patients to develop compensatory strategies for their lapses in memory or whatever cognitive decline they might have experience. In other words, developing techniques to help circumnavigate around daily challenges. For example, if one frequently forgets daily tasks, they might set reminders around their house to jog their memory. Dr. Stoler calls this “Making strategic adjustments to your environment,” which “enables you to be more efficient and focused in daily function.” In doing this, Cognitive Therapy aims to educate patients about their condition and provide successful coping methods to allow them to be able to act independently and be self-confident.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
The other form of therapeutic treatment is one we’ve previously discussed: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT. Conducted by a licensed mental health professional like a psychologist or social worker, CBT encourages the patient to take an active role in determining their own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Dr. Stoler summarizes the role of this therapy by explaining that it “helps people change how they think, feel, or act in order to improve their mood, reduce stress, or achieve other important health and life goals. Some goals may be specific, such as reducing worrying or procrastination, whereas others can be more general, such as figuring out why one’s life seems to lack meaning, passion or direction, and figuring out what to do about it.”
CBT commonly follows three primary trains of thought. The first of which is that how you think, your cognition, can and does change your behavior. This illustrates the relationship between thought and action which are seen as working together rather than being separate, independent entities. The second realization is that how you think can be modified and altered. No pattern of thought is immutable and fixed. As our brains acquire new information they adapt accordingly and our beliefs and behaviors change according to how our minds develop. Finally, CBT suggests that you can achieve your desired behavior by changing the way you think. In other words, intentional changes in thought pattern from negative to positive can help us become better versions of ourselves and can help us achieve the changes in our behavior that we aspire to make.
Treating Memory Loss with CT and CBT
Both CT and CBT when applied towards memory loss, either from trauma or from illness, can help individuals afflicted learn how to cope with their conditions as well as how to overcome any challenges they might face along the way. Although labelled “conventional”, these methods of treatment can be highly effective and successful means of dealing with memory loss and certain forms of cognitive decline.