One of the best things to do if you notice memory problems is to talk about them. Share your concerns with your health care team and your loved ones. Keeping everyone in the loop will let them know how they can help you.
The first step is to become aware of any cognitive difficulties. When you recognize that your memory is not as good as it used to be, you are on the way to figuring out how to best manage these challenges. In the past, experts did not talk about MS-related memory problems because they thought it would upset people. Today, health care professionals understand that people with MS are constantly looking for more information about cognitive difficulties or any other MS topic.
Family members and friends may not realize that memory problems are a part of MS. When a person with MS forgets important conversations, misses appointments, or misplaces things, loved ones may wonder if the person is being lazy, indifferent, or just careless. If this happens, clear the air with your family and friends. Your loved ones need to develop an understanding of your challenges to help you overcome them.
The same can be said for your employer. Cognitive aspects of MS determine a person's capacity to work and remain employed. People with MS need to educate their employers about the nature of their memory problems. A vocational counsellor or occupational therapist may be a good resource to help you minimize these problems at work.
Beyond family and friends, MS support groups are a great way to keep up with the facts, ask questions, and talk to others who are in similar situations. Comparing notes and learning how others cope can be a very therapeutic experience.
A good place to start looking for a support group is our Community Support database.We can point you to hundreds of support groups around the country for people with MS, caregivers and family members. Many of these groups are part of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. You can access a full list of their local groups at www.mssociety.ca/en/community/default.htm.
The Internet has become one of the greatest allies for people who feel isolated because of a health condition. There are many Internet-based support groups and other Web-facilitated connections for people affected by MS.
If the risk of physical and cognitive disability is weighing on your mind, talk to your doctor about it. There are many options available that can help you live better with MS.
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