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Multiple Sclerosis: Practical Strategies for Managing Cognitive Challenges

For people with multiple sclerosis (MS) there’s no substitute for working with a specialist to identify and design effective strategies to compensate for cognitive challenges. Here are some common-sense suggestions for managing any difficulties you may be having. Your first step is to get comfortable with the idea that it’s okay to do things differently — creative flexibility is your key to success.


From there,

  • Develop a personal organizer (paper or electronic) that has all your important information in one place, including appointments, contact information, to-do lists, a tickler system to keep you on track, and anything else you need at your fingertips.

  • Create a family calendar to track everyone’s activities, and make each family member responsible for writing down the important stuff.

  • Set up a filing system to organize important papers.

  • Deal with the mail on a daily basis to avoid unnecessary accumulation (sort out the junk and put the important stuff in a safe place).

  • Create a system to process incoming bills, including a tickler system to ensure that they’re paid on time, or use an online payment system with automatic payment schedules.

  • Establish a consistent “home” for glasses, keys, and wallets to avoid endless hunting expeditions.

  • Create a computerized master checklist for repetitive tasks such as grocery shopping or packing for a trip.

  • Establish a file of driving directions to carry with you in your car.

  • Create a distraction-free zone in the house for tasks or conversations requiring concentration.

  • Schedule your day so that the tasks requiring the most cognitive effort can happen when you’re at your best, which is often earlier in the day.

  • Make sure that every telephone has a pen and pad of paper near it.

  • Create step-by-step project templates to help you stay on track with multistep tasks such as preparing a meal, balancing your checkbook, preparing your income taxes, and planning a vacation.

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