Health Topics

Handling Distractions Better May Improve Your Memory

One of the reasons there are so many complaints about memory is that it is so easy to get distracted.

Kathryn Kilpatrick offers suggestions for lifelong learning and successful aging. As a speech-language pathologist with over four decades of experience working with older adults, Kathryn Kilpatrick specializes in working with older adults and their families facing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. In the last decade people of all ages seem to be complaining about their memory.

Have you noticed that your memory is not what it used to be? Join the many people, both young and old, complaining about forgetting something or trying to figure what they were just doing. There is no quick fix for improving your memory. Like losing weight, you need to be aware of what will help in your particular situation then make a conscious effort to work your plan.

Handling Distractions Better

One of the reasons there are so many complaints about memory is that it is so easy to get distracted. Sometimes it is necessary and other times it is just what we do now. Losing that focus and concentration contributes to a decline in memory performance more often than you realize.


You see it often while driving and there is an accident on the other side of the road. Traffic on your side of the road usually slows down as well. What are some of the distractions in your daily routine?

  • Is it the text message or email that comes in while you are in the middle of a project?
  • For others it may be the clutter on your desk.
  • A conversation in the background.
  • Noises
  • Something that has been bothering you and you cannot get out of your mind.

Recently, I was working on a project at home that was not a favorite and I kept looking for something else more interesting to do rather than just sticking with it. Sometimes you may find yourself deliberately switching back and forth for similar reasons. The bottom line is that you accomplish more and are less likely to have errors by staying with that task.

Memory Basic To Do:

Change begins with awareness. This week notice your pattern when it comes to distractions. Do you jump from one task to another? You may wonder where the time went and why you did not accomplish more. Identify a situation where this happens most often and notice your typical response.

Maybe you need to modify the environment or work in a different location for a period of time. Remove any distractions and set a time limit for working on the project. If you are not finished, leave a brief note where you left off so it will take less time to get back on track when you return. Tell the person who may have interrupted you that you will get back to them after you finish what you are doing.

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.