Research has shown that 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.
Last week, we asked our Facebook community – “Do you experience cognitive problems? If so, have you developed techniques for managing your symptoms?” Respondents offered a variety of suggestions for managing cognitive symptoms ranging from memory loss to information processing and verbal fluency:
- Make lists and take them with you – People used a variety of systems for list-making, from post-it notes, smartphone applications, and small notebooks that were carried at all times
- “Post-its are my best friends!”
- “I make notes about everything, even where my car is parked!”
- “I have notes on my smart phone and a notebook that I take to the doctor with me”
- Keep a calendar and update it regularly
- Use alarms as reminders
- Keep your brain active – use online websites (such as luminosity.com) to play brain games, do crossword puzzles, practice meditation.
- “I try to avoid a full on routine and make my brain do something new each day (like drive another way to work).”
- Label drawers and boxes so you can easily find things
- Keep items in the same location so everything has a place
- If keeping up with conversation or finding the right words is challenging, try communicating in writing or visualizing the topic you are discussing.
- “Because I have resorted to texting, emails, and old fashioned letters.”
- “I picture the thing that I want to talk about”
- Try not to procrastinate too much, it might increase the chance you’ll forget to do something
- Talk to your doctor about treatments that might help – One community member noted that Provigil given for fatigue helped with her cognitive issues, another found Ginkgo Balboa to be helpful
- Ask for help when you need it – many respondents mentioned asking their children or spouses to help with reminders
- Be honest with others- “I just tell my family and my job sometimes, ‘My brain isn’t working.’ They know what that means and give me grace.”
If you experience cognitive problems, have you found ways to cope? Please share in the comments!