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How to Improve Short-Term Memory Problems from ADHD (in 12 Weeks)

adhd attention and memory May 10, 2023
Woman holding hands together worried about adhd and short term memory problems

Do you ever find yourself forgetting important details, like the names of people you just met, what you've just read, or where you parked your car? If you have adult ADHD, these short-term memory difficulties can be so frustrating and impact every part of your life.

ADHD affects how your brain processes information, which can make it difficult to stay focused and remember important information. In this article, let's explore how ADHD impacts your short-term memory and solutions to help manage these challenges.

Whether you're juggling multiple tasks at work or struggling with forgetfulness in your personal life, I'll share how the Memory Confidence Method™ can help you improve your focus and short-term memory with ADHD in 12 weeks so you can show up in your life with the mental energy you deserve.

How does ADHD affect memory?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects millions of adults worldwide. It is characterized by symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, which can impact daily life in various ways. Short term memory problems are a common symptom experienced by individuals with ADHD.

ADHD and Working Memory Deficits

Working memory is what lets us hold onto small pieces of information briefly (seconds), like when someone tells you a phone number and you need to remember it long enough to save it in your phone. This is different from short-term memory, which is the ability to remember something for a brief time (minutes), like the name of someone you just met.

Working memory is important because it helps us keep track of details, follow conversations, and do things like follow directions. Research has shown that people with ADHD often have difficulties with working memory and attention which is crucial for processing and retaining new information, maintaining focus, and completing tasks.

Working memory deficits can lead to poor performance and productivity at home and at work, persistent frustration, and cause self-esteem issues.

In the following sections, we will explore the link between ADHD and poor working memory, common working memory issues for individuals with ADHD, and how I help my clients overcome these challenges. By understanding the connection between ADHD and working memory, you can better equip yourself to manage the symptoms and improve your daily life.

The Link Between ADHD and Short-Term Memory Deficits

As we talked about before, people with ADHD symptoms struggle with working memory. This is because the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for controlling attention, executive functions, and working memory, works differently. These differences make it harder to concentrate and remember information to complete tasks. For instance, you may experience this when reading a book and find it difficult to remember what you just read.

Additionally, people with ADHD brains may have lower levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine, which play a role in working memory. These neurotransmitters are responsible for transmitting signals between neurons in the brain, and when levels are imbalanced, it can lead to difficulties with attention and memory.

Individuals with ADHD may also experience "working memory fatigue." This is a phenomenon where the brain becomes tired after prolonged periods of sustained attention, making it difficult to maintain focus and remember information.

Does ADHD affect long-term memory?

Although individuals with ADHD do not have known difficulties with long-term memory functions like storage or retrieval, deficits with focus and working memory can make it harder for people with ADHD to encode and consolidate memories into long-term storage. Therefore impacting your ability to store information for later.

In summary, the differences in brain function, structure, and connectivity that are characteristic of ADHD can lead to impairments in working memory and other cognitive processes. However, with the right support and strategies, you can learn to manage your symptoms and improve your cognitive functioning and memory skills so you can recall information easily and express yourself clearly. 

ADHD and Memory Loss

The relationship between ADHD and memory loss is not yet fully understood. While some studies suggest that having ADHD may put you at a higher risk for developing dementia or other cognitive disorders earlier in life, there is no conclusive evidence to support this.

Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is a condition that is typically associated with older individuals who are displaying early signs or are at risk of developing dementia. However, I often work with clients in their 40s-50s who have ADHD and may also experience significant cognitive changes or memory impairment and are diagnosed with MCI.

This condition can affect short-term memory and impact daily tasks, but with proper support and coaching, individuals can develop strategies to improve memory and overall cognitive function. Read more on Mild Cognitive Impairment in this article: What is Mild Cognitive Impairment? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Common Short-Term Memory Issues for Individuals with ADHD

The short-term memory problems people with ADHD experience can cause problems in their daily lives. Some of the most common short-term memory issues that individuals with ADHD may experience include:

  • Chronic forgetfulness: Individuals with ADHD struggle to remember important details or tasks, such as appointments, deadlines, or assignments.
  • Distraction: Individuals with ADHD may have a hard time staying focused on a task or conversation, causing them to forget what they were doing or what was said.
  • Difficulty with organization: Individuals with ADHD may struggle with organizing their thoughts and prioritizing tasks, which can lead to more forgetfulness.
  • Trouble completing tasks effectively: As we discussed earlier, individuals with ADHD often have working memory deficits, which can make it challenging to hold onto information for a short period of time to be productive in daily tasks. 
  • Difficulty word finding: Women with ADHD may have more trouble finding the words they want to say to express themselves both socially and professionally. 

These short-term memory issues can have a significant impact on individuals with ADHD, leading to problems in school, work, and personal relationships. I share more examples of ADHD Forgetfulness in this article: 15 Super Relatable Examples of ADHD Forgetfulness (& Tips to Help)

These skills are also highly trainable! And with the right support, you can improve them.

How to Improve Your Working Memory with ADHD

The good news is your working memory is like a muscle, it's trainable and with the right exercise, it can improve. By implementing these tips, you can support your memory and better manage your daily tasks and responsibilities. 

  • Do one task at a time: Stick to one activity at a time and avoid multitasking as much as possible. Eliminate distractions and set time limits and alarms to stay on track.

  • Utilize memory strategies: Find tools and strategies to support your memory - this is something I guide my clients through in the Memory Confidence Method™ program. If you're trying it solo, it can take some time and practice but it's well worth the effort. Mnemonic devices, to-do lists, writing down important information, and setting reminders on your phone can help you remember important information.

  • Create solid routines: Establish patterns that work for you to support your focus and memory and places for important things you need to remember but often forget - like your keys.
  • Invest the time to learn about your memory: There are different types of memory that benefit from different forms of support. When you understand how your brain works, you can learn how to support your recall more effectively. 
  • Exercise: Physical activity can be a helpful non-pharmacological tool for managing ADHD symptoms and improving brain structure and function.

  • Play brain training games, if you enjoy them: Some evidence suggests that targeted cognitive training for different brain areas can improve cognitive functioning. However, there is very limited research to suggest memory games will single-handedly improve your memory function.

These strategies take time and practice and it can be well worth the effort. However, it can be challenging to do independently when you're already struggling with focus and memory. If that sounds like you, coaching and other treatments can help.

Treatments for ADHD 

There are many treatment options to help with ADHD symptoms that can have a positive effect on how you process information (and how you remember it.)


Stimulant medication is a common treatment for ADHD. It works by increasing the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, which can improve attention and focus and make tasks less intimidating. Some commonly prescribed ADHD medications include Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta.

It's important to note that stimulant medication doesn't work for everyone and may have side effects. Some common side effects include decreased appetite, difficulty sleeping, and irritability.

If you're considering stimulant medication as a treatment option, it's essential to talk to your doctor to determine if it's the right choice for you. They can discuss the potential benefits and risks and help you decide if it's worth trying.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a treatment option that can help people with ADHD change the way they think and manage their emotions and behaviors. It can improve behaviors related to goal-setting, planning, and task execution, all of which are linked to working memory. It's also effective for improving mental health.

Coaching for ADHD and Memory Problems

If you struggle with ADHD-related short-term memory challenges and you feel like it's holding you back, I'm here to tell you that there are many practical, natural solutions that can help you overcome this challenge and reach your full potential. No more constantly second-guessing yourself or doubting your recall.

As a memory health coach for women, I specialize in helping women just like you overcome memory problems. Because the truth is that once your memory starts to slip, everything in your life becomes harder. It impacts your health, relationships, work, and finances. It can strip you of your peace of mind, confidence, and happiness. 

And so often, the people around you just don't get it. This is why you need support who does, so I'm glad you're here! Together, we can develop personalized strategies that boost recall, fuel clearer thinking, and create lasting change so you can feel more focused, confident, and present in your daily life.

How to Improve Your Focus and Memory in 12 Weeks 

Are you struggling with memory issues and feeling like you've tried everything to no avail? It's time to stop relying on band-aid solutions and start implementing real changes that will improve your focus and memory for the long term. That's where The Memory Confidence Method™ comes in - a 12-week program designed to help you develop personalized memory and focus strategies, establish healthy lifestyle habits that eliminate brain fog, and manage stress.

You don't have to go through this alone - schedule a free call today and I'll share what steps you need to take next in order to think clearly, remember easily, and speak up without anxiety over not finding the words you want to say. 

Questions? Contact Francine Here

Meet the Coach

Hey there! I'm Francine, a speech-language pathologist turned memory health coach with a passion for helping you overcome your memory problems.

In my practice, I help women just like you trade memory problems for confidence and clarity everyday so you can think clearly and remember easily, without constant self-doubt weighing you down. 

If you're struggling with poor recall and foggy thinking, you're in the right place and I want to help you!


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