This is a part of the Hot Topic podcast series from the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center on Changes in Memory After TBI. Dr. David Arciniegas discusses Memory Problems Causing Conflict Within Families.

Memory problems can be a source of distress not only for people with brain injured, but also for the people they live with. Most often family members, but it can be anybody else in their close circle of acquaintances or friends. The trouble that people have with a memory problem is one that many people don't understand.

And they see it as not trying hard enough or somehow not paying good enough attention. And the person him- or herself will say, no, actually, I'm paying attention. The problem is, I really can't remember what you're telling me. A good example was from somebody who was in one of our studies recently, a young man who had a very severe brain injury.

Fortunately, in the late period, had recovered well enough to be at home, was able to pay attention, but really couldn't remember things well. Lived with his grandmother and would have fights with his grandmother from her perspective because he irritatingly just kept asking the same question, and, "If he'd just pay attention in the first place," she wouldn't have to tell him stuff the second time.

He, from his perspective, would get angry at her reactions to his memory problems, saying, no, no, no, I'm paying attention. I just really don't remember. And her seeing it as a sign of his laziness or not trying hard enough was so out of sorts with his own experience of trying as hard as he could that it became a source of fight.

And what the course the two of them talked to me about was the fighting and the anger in the house, which, once we sort of peeled back the layers on it, it was like, oh, well, this is about, first, a memory failure, and second, a failure to understand the memory failure, and getting them on the same page about what was really happening, even independent of all the stuff we were doing in the studies, seemed to make a big difference in their ability to live with each other happily.

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