Memory, concentration and thinking

Some people experience problems with memory, concentration and thinking (known as cognition) after mini stroke (TIA) and minor stroke. These problems are usual worst during the first few months.

For some people these problems are very mild and have little impact, but for others it can have a bigger impact and affect confidence, mood, ability to work and relationships with family/ friends.

I need to write much more things down, I'm still doing things forgetting that I've done it or forgetting that I haven't done it.

Minor stroke patient

How can I manage cognitive problems?

There are self-management strategies, resources and organisations to help make things a little easier for you, some of them can be found below:

Tips to manage your memory and thinking are summarised in the infographic.

1. Keep your brain active

  • There are plenty of ways to keep your brain active, such as crossword puzzles, Sudoku, reading, jigsaw puzzle.

  • There are apps for brain training which are recommended by the NHS.

person sitting on a stool with paper

2. Rest and relaxation

  • When you’re tired it’s even harder for your brain to process things. Rest and sleep can help you focus.
  • Relaxation activities can help your mind rest.
  • You may already know what relaxes you, such as reading, walking, listening to music.
  • Some relaxation techniques need to learnt and practised, such as mindfulness and meditation. There are lots of videos, websitespodcasts and apps to help you.
  • It can be difficult to find time to rest and relax at work. Talk to your manager and occupational health team about adaptations to the way you work and how to build short breaks into your day.
woman walking

3. Exercise

  • Being active can help cognitive problems.
  • Exercise also releases chemicals into your brain that make you feel happier.
  • You’re more likely be active if you plan it, do something you enjoy or do it with family or friends.
  • Find out more about active lifestyle here.
man with racquet

4. Be kind to yourself

  • Try not to put too much pressure on yourself or expect too much.
  • Allow yourself more time to do things and set realistic goals.
  • Some people say that cognitive problems made them feel stupid, but you are not stupid, you haven’t lost your intelligence.
person holding a flag with a smiley face on it

5. Speak to your GP

  • Your GP can check that cognitive problems aren’t caused by something else, like medication or low mood.
  • Problems with memory, concentration and thinking are “hidden” and many people (including doctors) don’t realise that these problems can occur after mini stroke (TIA) and minor stroke. This means you probably won’t be asked about cognitive issues and you’ll have to actively ask your GP for support yourself.
woman holding a very large cup of tea

6. Talk about it

Talking to other people is really important.

Family and friends: sharing your problems can help them understand what you are going through and how to support you.

Other people who have had mini stroke (TIA)/ minor stroke: connect through social media groups and forums:

Stroke charities: 

two people looking at each other with a heart above them

How can I manage memory problems?

There are self-management strategies, resources and organisations to help make things a little easier for you, some of them can be found below:

Tips to manage memory problems are summarised in the infographic.

1. Write things down

  • Write a to do list.
  • Use calendars for appointments or events.
  • Write down what was discuss at doctors’ appointments or other meetings.
  • Use a voice recorder or take photos as an alternative to writing
woman with notepad and pencil

2. Use prompts and reminders

  • Set alarms as reminders; for example, when to take medication.
  • Use pill boxes to keep track of medication.
  • Put notes in places you’ll see them, such as on a mirror or the front door: “don’t forget keys”.
  • Label cupboards and drawers so you know where things are kept.
hand holding smart phone with reminders on the screen

3. Have a regular routine

  • Having a regular daily routine helps you to know what’s coming next.
  • Take your medication at the same time every day.
  • Include time to relax.
  • Still have some variety so you don’t get bored.
person sat on a stool holding a piece of paper with a calendar

4. Plan ahead

  • Write a to do list.
  • Prepare what you need ahead of time.
  • Place items you need in obvious places, such as trainers by the door to remind you to go for a walk.
pair of hands holding a clipboard with a check list

5. Keep things in the same place

  • Keep important items in the same place, such as keys on a hook by the door.
  • Remove distraction, like clutter.
person holding a pile of files

How can I manage concentration problems?

1. Pace yourself

  • Limit activities to the length of time you know you can concentrate for.
  • Have regular breaks and rest - tiredness affects your concentration.
  • Is there a time of day you have better concentration?
man sitting on a chair with a cup of coffee

2. Do one thing at a time

  • Focus on one task at a time.
  • Even having a conversation while doing something can be distracting.
woman sat at a desk with lots of speech bubbles around her

3. Remove distractions

  • Noises, like the TV, can make it difficult to concentrate.
  • Your surroundings can be distracting; for example, if there is clutter.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Writing things down can help you focus.
laptop with lots of activites

Helpful Resources


Medication reminder: 

Brain training:


Talk about it

Stroke charities

Stroke Association:

Different strokes:

Social media and forums for mini stroke (TIA) and minor stroke