Memory Lapse? There’s An App for That
One of my biggest frustrations with having brain injury and multiple sclerosis is lapses in memory. Memory apps are definitely one of the best solutions I have found to alleviate memory issues in my life. However, the apps I use are not the typical apps associated with improving memory.
Most of the time, I remember things that are stored in my long-term memory that are important to me. Family events, people, and technical knowledge I have from my professional life as a physical therapist are easy to remember. However, short-term memories such as where I placed my car keys, where I put down my eyeglasses, and where I laid down the check I just wrote that I want to mail, are often elusive if not completely a blank in my mind.
One of the most important memory skills that I am easily tripped up by is remembering if and when I took a particular medication, which can lead to serious consequences beyond just frustration. It’s great when I just happen to recall a memory that just slipped my mind, but this rarely happens. If it does, the timing is usually poor to be of any help.
Rather than fighting for my short-term memories on a daily basis which robs me of time and energy to do other important things in my day, I have embraced the wonders of technology.
I love to say, “yes, there’s an app for that!” It’s a miraculous fact to me that there is a constant stream of apps available to download on my smartphone. The following memory apps are those I have found really helpful for remembering those seemingly trivial things that can make or break my day.
These apps are all in the Google Play store for downloading. All apps mentioned here are free, but a few require a paid device to operate them. Some free apps also have upgrades to paid versions for more features.
Of course, I love memory games and other memory skill boosters, however, these memory apps are for increasing my efficiency in practical ways throughout my day and have nothing to do with games, even though some of them are fun to use.
1.Memory Apps With Notifiers
Memory Helper to Do List Notepad
This android app by Human Helper has a very simple and pleasant design making it easy to use. You simply enter your list of things to do in the app. Every time you turn on your phone, the app reminds you of your list. There are settings for font size and for activating the app only when you have listed things to do. This is a great app to prevent forgetting things you have to do and lightening your memory load.
It’s a good idea to prioritize your list and separate the critical things to be done first from the non-essential tasks that you just want to be reminded of.
2. Memory Recall And Engagement
This memory app helps relatives and caregivers of people who have Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia that limit memory function. It allows the person to store favorite memories in a scrapbook. It also has categories for conversation starters, music, and visual aids all about 20th-century information and facts. There are even topics based on specific decades. This app is a great way to help caregivers stimulate conversation and evoke memories the person still has so they can share.
3. Pill and Medicine Reminders
Pill Reminder and Medication Tracker by Medisafe
This app allows you to easily add medications and set the times they be taken. It has a nice “pill shaking” sound when it notifies you it’s time to take your medicine. The interface is simple and straightforward.
Now I could potentially just add my medicines to a general task app with notification reminders. However, I like the using this app because it flags potential drug interactions with my medicines. As a memory app, it reminds me when refills are due. It also handles my rather complex dosing schedules.
This app has the benefit of keeping my medicine list handy for my doctor visits and in any emergency and keeps a history of what I took. All things my memory would never be capable of doing and I would never document on my own.
Even though Medisafe’s app is my choice, there are literally hundreds of these memory apps available in the Google Play Store. There are even ones for specific medications put out by the drug companies that manufacture them. Yes, they want you to remember to take your medication!
4. Remember to Drink Water
Drink Water Reminder App
Water intake is so important for our everyday health. It can be easily overlooked in a busy schedule or when we are focused on other things.
Dehydration is also a main concern for seniors. The brain normally gives us thirst signals when we need water. However, as we age this mechanism is easily interrupted, and the less we drink the less we feel thirsty. This becomes a threat to healthy kidney function if inadequate hydration becomes a chronic issue.
There is no difference in the requirements for water intake no matter what your age. The baseline amount recommended is 1 cup per 20 pounds of body weight. That is 6-8 cups of water per day at minimum. With hot weather and physical exertion, you need to consume even more. Dehydration can cause confusion and memory loss, and even mild dehydration can cause brain fog and distraction. I want to be vigilant with my water intake for my best health and performance, so I use an app instead of trying to remember on my own.
I like to use apps that are simple to use and not overly annoying with notifications or ads. This Water Drink Reminder app fits the bill for me. You enter a few details to get the right amount of water for your body. The app reminds you once an hour to drink, and can be turned off when you are sleeping. If you enter your drinking amounts before the alarm schedule it will refrain from notifying you until the next time you need to drink. You can also customize the reminder intervals, notification sounds, and the amount you drink each time.
5. Remember to Eat
Meal Reminder App
This app is not a diet or weight management app. It is specifically to help you remember to eat your meals throughout the day so you maintain your health. This is great for folks who have memory issues. It also works well for those who just can’t get into a regular eating schedule due to busyness or other issues. It’s a friendly app with a nice interface that lets you customize the meal schedule. It does require you eat 5 meals per day.
There are many apps that remind you to eat as well as help you manage your weight whether you need to gain or lose weight. Also, many apps include counting calories or recording the types of foods you eat. Of course, the complexity of your participation increases with how many things you want an app to do for you. In this article, we won’t be mentioning these apps since they are more for weight management, but if you need an app for this purpose, be certain you choose such an app for ease of use.
6. Multifunction Task Memory App
Remember the Milk
For those of you who want a “one app does it all” solution for help in remembering and getting things done, Remember The Milk is the app for you. It is a to-do task list oriented app for busy people. It does have a learning curve to learn to add lists, set priorities and set notifications.
I would not recommend it for those with moderate memory issues, but it works well for on-the-go active people. Once you have the process down, this app can do just about anything in the “to do” areas of life. The beauty of this app is that it will connect across all your devices so you can keep things organized anywhere.
7. Remember to Pick Up Groceries
Listonic Grocery Shopping List
This grocery app is simple, quick and easy to use. Just pick from their pre-loaded list of groceries to add them to your list, or add your own custom grocery item. There is a tab to search for any item by category as well. You can check the items off on your list as you get them and they are moved to the bottom of your list. I have found this memory app to be a huge aid in my busy week.
I love grocery list apps because they help me to plan ahead for my shopping trip. They keep me from wandering around the store aimlessly and buying things on impulse that I don’t really need, which is usually the junkier food items.
There are also apps specific to your local grocery store chain that allow you to build your grocery list while downloading coupons to your smartphone to be automatically redeemed at checkout. So you not only remember what you needed to get at the grocery store, you can save money doing it.
Check for your local grocery store’s app by searching the Google Play marketplace or ask for instructions from the store how to download their app. I use my local Giant store app for both coupons and creating a list.
8. Find My Stuff
Find My Device
This app really comes in handy if you ever lose your cell phone. (Well I have done it, even if you won’t admit you have :)) It also can find your tablet or your watch. All you need to use it is to have Google installed with an active Google account on any of the devices you want to keep track of.
There are security settings where you can lock the contents of your device and disable its use if found by someone. The app provides a feature to give proper contact information to the finder if they want to return your device to you.
I like this app both for its simplicity and its reliability which I did not find with other memory apps of this type.
There are several apps out there that perform this function and more. I highly recommend you try one because it can save you a huge headache and some big bucks when this brain fart occurs, especially if you have an expensive phone or watch. Many of these apps also keep your information secure in your phone so any finders keepers can’t steal any valuable data from you.
9. Find My Car
Parked Car Locator
OK, this one happens to me at the mall or at Walmart mostly. I forget where I parked the car and when I come out all the cars look black like mine. All the parking areas look exactly the same.
And yes, I also forgot where I came into the mall so I forgot to come out the same door I came in. Oh, and I forgot the number or letter on the light pole that identified the row and section my car was parked in. My memory is shot. I’m embarrassed, I’m tired, and I have to pee.
Well that’s all taken care of by the find my car apps. There are several available, but the best free one I have tried with success is the Parked Car Locator. I like the simplicity of this app, but what helped me the most is how visual it is, especially for parking lots, it will give you an aerial view of your location.
Fair warning with any car location memory app you download: test it first! It didn’t work the first time for me, I had to try a few times first. Don’t wait for an important occasion when you really need to find your car. You need to get used to how these apps work because many of them use Bluetooth and GPS location methods.
These methods do not always work in all situations, but for now they are the best available without an actual physical tracking device placed in your car that communicates with your phone. There are also paid vs. free apps that may perform better, but check reviews carefully before you buy.
10. Find My Keys
Nothing new here. You put your keys down, you swear they were just there on the counter, but the creepy house gnome has stolen them again. Now where did those keys go?
No problem anymore, Tile key finder apps to the rescue. These work great for those daily memory farts. These memory apps are not free as there are actual tracking devices that are paired with the app.
There are several key finder devices on the market which work with their own apps. They are in the $15-25 range depending on features. Here are 3 of the best out there listed from least to most expensive:
Tile Mate: This tiny Bluetooth tracker easily attaches to things you don’t want to lose, like your keys. It attaches to your keychain, or any other object to which you can tie it!. The phone app that comes with it just has a green button you press that says “Find” and voila! It tells you where your lost item is.
It has a nice reverse function as well that allows you to double press the button on your tile mate tag and it will ring your phone, even if it is on silent mode. Price: under $15.
The Tile Sport and the Tile Style have the same features as the Tile Mate in a more sporty or elegant design, plus the range is 200 feet, double that of the Tile Mate. Both the Sport and the Style models are also waterproof. Price: about $25.
11. Clap to Find My Phone
Clap to Find
Clap to find apps are great for folks who want a really simple solution to find their phone when it gets misplaced. This handy memory app does exactly that. You lose your phone, you clap, your phone rings. Problem solved!
The app has a simple on/off mode and a sound sensitivity and sound mode settings panel. This is a nice app for indoors only and of course it only works at very short distances. If you’re out and about with your phone a lot, the Find My Device app will probably be the better choice for you.
12. Person Locator
GPS Phone Tracker App
You’re in the mall with your dear partner and you promised to meet up with them at X time at X place. They don’t show. They are most likely not kidnapped, they are rather napping on a mall bench somewhere or rummaging through the racks in a store. Either way, they aren’t picking up their phone when you call, what the heck?
No more excuses with the person finder apps.
The GPS Phone Tracker app works by installing the app on your phone and your partner’s phone. Each of you will appear as a unique icon on GPS tracking navigational map. Your location will be shown on the map and you can find each other in real time.
It’s great for when you meet up with friends for events and appointments too. GPS Phone tracker also has a find your lost phone feature to boot.
13. Find TV Remote Replacement
Universal TV Remote
Now where did you set down that TV Remote? Well, it may show up at some point under the couch cushions or under the bed, or on a shelf somewhere. Hopefully, it didn’t drop into a waste can by mistake (of course I mention that because it happened to me). No worries, while you’re waiting for your memory to reboot, you can recreate your remote using the Universal TV Remote App.
This app has a clean design, but there is a slight learning curve when you first set it up. There are settings for every major brand of TV. The colors of the remote buttons can even be customized. The reason this one is my top pick of universal remote apps is that the ads are very small and unobtrusive, making it pleasant to use.
There are apps for many types of remote control devices. Some are universal and some are for a specific device. (like the Roku). Search Google play for the brand of your device + “remote” and you will likely find the app replacement for your original remote control.
14. Pet Locator
Did you forget to lock the gate when you put Rover out? Does that cute kitty hide and refuse to come inside?
Avoid huge emotional stress for both you and your pet by having a memory app that locates your pet when they get lost (or they think they lost you, depends on whose point of view you take).
These apps do require you purchase the corresponding device that works with the app but they are well worth it, esp. if you have a roving Rover or a wandering Kitty or if any of your animals have a wanderlust. They usually wear the GPS device on their collar. Here are two most popular choices:
Tractive GPS Dog and Cat Finder
This small lightweight waterproof tracker attaches to your pet’s collar or harness. This device has an advantage over the Tile tags mentioned above: they have an unlimited range. The app for the Tractive GPS Finder allows you to create a virtual fence for your pet. The app notifies you when your pet has left the area you designate.
This GPS tracks your pet in real time to show you his location. It also shows you a history of where your pet has been. The price is under $65 for the device and app. A subscription service is required for receiving the data which is pulled from cell towers and starts around $5 per month, depending on the plan you choose.
Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker & Activity Monitor
This is a similar device with the features above. It does boast a much longer battery life of up to 7 days, 2x that of the Tractive GPS.
Of cellular connected petfinder devices, this is the device most widely used. It has a history of greater durability as well as very responsive customer service. It does carry a slightly higher price tag around $80 and subscription service starts at 6.95 per month.
For some caregiver situations where a person’s memory and wandering may be an issue, these devices actually provide an affordable alternative to conventional personal trackers such as medical alert devices, as their monthly subscription rates are in the lower $5-10 range vs. the $20-50 range for medical trackers.
Just keep in mind these devices track location very well, but unlike medical alert devices, they do not send medical assistance and are not in any way a substitute for emergency medical care.
15. I Forgot My Glasses
Forgot your glasses when you left the house? There are memory apps that approach this problem in different ways.
Tile, as previously described, provides a GPS tracking device paired with a locator app for most small objects.
The Reading Glasses – Magnifier – Visual Aid Zoom by Roca actually provides a reading app on your phone that enables you to zoom in on text and objects as if you had a pair of reading glasses.
This app has rich features that utilize the camera in your smartphone for autofocus and zoom from 1x – 5x. It’s an instant solution for moments when you need to read serial numbers, menus, and other small print.
You can customize the color of text and background to achieve the best reading experience for you. It also assists you with proper lighting over your text in low light conditions.
16. I Forgot My Store Loyalty Rewards Card
You got all the way to the store, shopped, now you’re at the checkout and you forgot your store loyalty rewards card. You’re saying to yourself, “if I have to remember just one more piece of data in my life today, I think I’m going to explode…” Why should you have to give up those great discounts and rewards? Well, there are apps for that too…
Stocard – Rewards Cards Wallet stores all your rewards and loyalty cards in one place. It’s really visual too and easy to use. Just take a snapshot of your rewards card in the app setup and voila! Your rewards card is now available for use anytime from your phone. This can free up both mental space and wallet space, it’s a win-win for staying organized.
There are store specific apps as well, but this app neatly condenses them all into one place, so I’m throwing it out there as my top recommendation.
17. Wake up Apps
OK, you can say you didn’t remember to set your alarm, but there are times too when you just don’t wanna wake up. These apps will zap you into your day without winking an eye. There are many of these apps, ranging from the very alarming to pleasant to funny to diabolical… the following is just a sampling of what’s available. It’s all about how you want to wake up, or not…
I Can’t Wake Up App
This app will not allow you to turn your alarm off until you complete a scheduled task. From puzzles to math problems, scanning barcodes of your toothpaste in the bathroom, you pick your poison! This truly evil app will get you out of bed even if you just agree to shake your phone enough.
Alarmy is as an app that truly earns the most annoying award. The alarm won’t shut off unless you take a photo with your phone of a pre-designated object. Of course, if you are really determined to make this work you have to rig it right by selecting objects far from your bed. It can also annoy you with math problems if you really wish it to and supports shake mode for morning slackers.
Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock
If you’re not into wake-up torture methods, this is the app for you. It actually measures your sleep patterns by using sound and vibration detection to record your movements as you go through different phases of deep and light sleep. The alarm uses this information to wake you up when you are in a light sleep phase which feels more natural and pleasant to wake up.
The actual wakeup time occurs within a 30-minute window before the alarm time you set. This app has a lot of rave reviews and for its high level of technology, it actually works efficiently on most smartphones.
Wake up apps, when used as directed, really can ease your memory and tension load and let you get a good night’s sleep.
18. I Can’t Find It On My Phone
Apps that simplify your smartphone interface help you to use your phone efficiently especially when you find it difficult to remember how to operate your phone’s major functions. These types of apps take all the distraction out of having so many apps on your phone. They clean up the interface to show larger icons for phone, camera, email, etc. These apps work well not only for those with memory issues but for those with visual and motor problems as well.
BIG contacts, simple phone, easy SMS for senior is a free app that simplifies the user interface and is useful for people with visual and motor problems. It is also appropriate for children.
There is an enlarged keyboard to make it easier to make phone calls. When you dial a phone number, the app gives audible feedback for each number pressed. Contacts are in a visually clear simplified list.
The interface reduces visual confusion from multiple icons. This memory app is best set up by a caregiver or parent that can select the best options for the user. It also has an SOS function for emergencies.
BIG Launcher Easy
When I used this app for simplifying my smartphone interface, BIG Launcher Easy was clearly the winner for visual display, features, and options. It sports the large keyboard for phone calls and every screen with icons and functions is clearly defined and easy on the eyes.
The free version of BIG Launcher has some limitations but if you really get a lot of usage out of this app there is a paid version for under $10 at the time of this writing.
This was a memory app where I really felt the paid version was totally worth it. If you have a smartwatch, BIG Launcher Wearable has an interface download for only $2.00.
I tried my best to find apps that were free, however, be aware that most free apps have ads. I chose memory apps that have the least intrusive ads so the use of the app is not diminished. Some apps have a paid version for a modest cost which often eliminates ads and has additional features. I always try free apps first, then upgrade to paid if I really find I am using the app a lot and want the ad-free experience.
Subscription services for tracking devices such as dog tags are necessary as they use cell phone towers just like medical alert devices. Doing your research before purchasing these devices will help you make sure you are getting the right device for your needs. I would call the device company before purchase to test out their customer service for availability, reliability, and helpfulness.
I really hope I provided you with some helpful information on apps that will assist your daily memory load. For most of us in this day and age of technology-driven activities, it is difficult to keep all the stuff and information in our lives organized and easy to retrieve. Obviously, these apps can’t improve your memory within themselves, but they can assist you to better use your memory for the most important things. They can also help you be secure and organized for all the other stuff in your life.
My advice is always to simplify whenever possible, so don’t try to download and use all the above memory apps! Choose one that will help resolve an issue that occurs frequently in your week, download it, and try using it for a while before you download any other apps. Once you’ve mastered that app, then try another one. I only keep up to 5 apps for memory assistive purposes on my phone, or it defeats the purpose to have so many to use and remember. Most people don’t need more than that. I pick and choose my battles!