Best Tips for Managing Cognitive Symptoms

Cognitive symptoms can be an especially frustrating aspect of MS.

Multiple Sclerosis is often associated with varying levels of cognitive dysfunction. These symptoms can present in many different ways – difficulty concentrating, problems finding the right words, feelings of “sensory overload” or slower thinking, and memory loss.  Although most people with MS will not experience severe cognitive impairment, several of our community members noted experiencing some of these symptoms.

Our community shares tips for managing a variety of cognitive symptoms.

managing cognitive symptoms

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  • PetieJ
    2 years ago

    Re DavidA~I so feel for David and what he had to experience at his job–one you’d need an exceptional memory for! But it pisses me off that he was fired, no questions asked apparently. I would want him to contact them, even if he had to bypass the HR dept. to get the information to those who Need to know what was happening to him. It doesn’t seem quite legal, or ethical, to do such a thing either.
    I know what it’s like to fight for a word, worse, to go completely and totally blank in the midst of a sentence, a whole conversation, and have Zero recollection of what it’s about. It’s beyond frustration. I have to do the ‘charades’ thing to get someone to understand what I’m grasping for, something I can see in my mind, and having to describe it in my stumbling, almost incomprehensible way. It’s very scary sometimes. Some days I feel like I should duct tape my mouth, others, I can be reasonably coherent. My husband is the only one who Really Knows what I go thru. He’s the one who lives with me, sees me daily, sees my struggles and does his best to understand and help me thru them. Many times we’ve not even let family visit bcuz I “don’t feel well”. The fatigue, dizziness, stumbling, falling, speaking w/o making sense, unable to hold anything bcuz I have no feeling, etc…Very recently I told my husband, let them come. Maybe it’s going to be the only way they understand. If I’m having a bad or worse day, let them come see. Otherwise, nobody really ‘gets it’.
    Everyone’s diagnosis starts out differently. It’s an utter shame that so many doctors are so….what’s the word? Close minded? Is that what keeps them from pursuing the Real diagnosis vs the easy guess? Anyone that’s ever lost a job based on their health situation has a case as far as I’m concerned.
    I’d certainly like to know what’s going on with DavidA these days.
    We just have to persevere people! Keep fighting !

  • Missievette
    2 years ago

    I don’t currently take a medication for my cognitive issues, my neurologist was concerned that my age was a factor. I do wonder if lack of sleep may be related to the various cognitive issues I currently face.

  • DonnaFA moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi Missievette, that’s a good question. I thought you might be interested in reading this article from the NIH which shows the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive functioning.

    Thanks for being part of the community. We’re glad you’re here! -All Best, Donna (MultipleSclerosis.net team)

  • pearl
    2 years ago

    Im in process of Dr. App. I have so many MS symptoms. But also Fibromyalgia, and lupis.

  • DonnaFA moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi Pearl, Thanks for being part of the community and for sharing your thoughts. We’ll be thinking of you and sending all good wishes for your doctor’s visit. -Warmly, Donna (MultipleSclerosis.net team)

  • Liliana45
    2 years ago

    Thanks for your research.
    I live with MS for 10 years now.
    I shire experience emotional and physical double life now. I can fell, act, express/ hide emotions almost like person with by-polar disorder. I ne’er had it or was diagnosed with it.
    Please MS community, what do you think is it: MS symptoms or Bipolar Disorder?
    Please, help with your response.
    Sincerely,
    Lilia.

  • esme2288
    3 years ago

    If I could do all of those things I wouldn’t have a problem.

    Lists: I can write them wherever I want, but they never get to the store with me, or I forget I wrote one, or I lose it,…

    Calendar: I keep one on my computer, with multiple reminders for anything I have to do, and it syncs (usually) with my cell phone. But sometimes I forget about the calendar and I don’t always have my cell phone, and sometimes it erases things,…

    Labels: I would love it if I could have my whole house labeled like a grocery store and, for a while, I carefully labeled where everything belongs in the kitchen. It worked for me, unless somebody else (my husband) couldn’t be bothered to look at a label before putting something away.

    Keeping things in the same location: only works if you never have to actually use it. Once something leaves its location there is no telling where it will end up. That’s not my family’s fault – I’m just scattered. I might go to get the scissors, notice dishes in the sink, find those pruning shears I’d been looking for,… in the meantime I’m not even aware I put the scissors down.

    I hate the idea of adding more drugs, but I’m going to look into that and that cognitive intervention. My Neuro told me to take Aleve for brain fog, but it didn’t help. Or maybe it did and I just forgot.

  • spuds
    4 years ago

    Cog Fog. I HATE IT. I reach for a word and something else comes out ie: cast comes out catch. Anyone else do this? I just had some cognitive tests at my neurologist-failed miserably.

  • plushious
    4 years ago

    one of the things that might help with managing memory issues is to get a mini-recorder that you can keep in pocket or purse, or hang around your neck. it can be used when paper/pen isn’t handy, or you lose track of that piece of paper you wrote your reminder on.
    Personally, I use the calendar and alarm functions on my cell phone to keep track of ‘stuff,’ — however a mini-recorder would really be helpful for those times the phone is troublesome at the exact moment.
    Blessings on all of us who are dealing with this mysterious disease.

  • Liliana45
    2 years ago
  • Darrell
    4 years ago

    I make use of the online Yahoo calendar to help with my memory problems.

  • Liliana45
    2 years ago

    Good !
    It brings old joke to my mind: who reminds you to check your calendar?

  • Wishteria Wishbubble
    5 years ago

    Like Penny, my first clue that I was experiencing cognitive symptoms was work related. I would forget to follow up on tasks that I normally did with no second thought. When taking a message, I’d have difficulty with people saying numbers. I had to write three numbers, then the next three. If they spoke too quickly and said the fourth number, I’d loose the first three and my mind would go blank. Having a QEEG test done showed the areas of my brain that were not functioning. Deep inside, I knew my brain wasn’t working like it used to and the ‘official test’ validated my symtoms. Cognitive testing is an important test to do so that you can get the best rehab and medication to assist you with regaining a sense of control again. Play brain games and memory games like cards. It can get better and often does, once you and your doctor know the cause of and extent of your cognitive symptoms.

  • Penny
    5 years ago

    The loss of my short term memory, missed appointments, meetings and missed deadlines were my first clue that I needed to consider leaving my job as a busy ER Manager. The harder I worked, the worse it got. The worse I got, the more stress I felt and I got ever so sick. Started having flares with regularity~at least every 3 months. Once I had the cognitive testing, it became clear there was a definate reason why. Very frustrating, but I am now in the midst of getting cognitive rehab which is helping me find ways to tickle my brain a little.

  • Liliana45
    2 years ago

    Great for helping yourself

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