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Keep Forgetting Your Umbrella? Here’s How You Can Always Remember It

If you’ve ever been stuck outside in the rain without your umbrella, you’ll know how frustrating that can be. Chances are you’ll mutter some angry swear words directed entirely at yourself as you finally make it home soaked to the skin - but is there a way to improve your chances of remembering your umbrella?

Scientists have discovered a new strategy that could help individuals boost the likelihood of them remembering to grab their umbrella on the way out in bad weather. What’s the key? Well, they suggest you imagine an action between the umbrella and another object; for example your front door.

Think of a scenario in which you’re stood outside your home looking at your front door, then imagine the tip of your umbrella being stuck in the lock of the door, stopping you from putting your key in and opening it. Thinking of this situation (or something similar where an action between the two objects is involved) can help improve your chances of remembering your umbrella.

This memory trick was utilised by 80 individuals primarily aged between 60 and 80, where it was found to increase their memory performance significantly.

Why is it so effective? Well, research has shown that older individuals retain the ability to remember objects such as keys or mobile phone, but struggle to recall the relationship between them. Planning days out or events in advance can therefore be a struggle as the older generation are less able to remember any correlation between items like an umbrella or house keys.

As a result, imaging an action and therefore a consequence (eg. getting stuck outside in the rain!) can trick the brain into grouping two unrelated items together. This particular study from the US has been published in the journal ‘Memory & Cognition’.

Co-author Professor Jennifer Ryan, from the University of Toronto, said: 'Previous research has shown that imagining two objects fusing into one will help people work around these memory deficits, but our work demonstrated that understanding the relationship between the two items is also important.'

'We know that cognitive function is impaired during ageing and this strategy could be one workaround for minor memory problems, depending on what you need to achieve.'

Whilst there is no single solution that will ‘fix’ a memory problem, different methods can work better or worse for certain individuals - definitely give this one a try if you struggle to remember your brolly.

Grabbing your umbrella shouldn’t be hard to remember now!