Your loved ones may be puzzled by your failing memory and may not connect it with the same demyelinating process that has you walking with a cane and going to the bathroom every half hour. Family members and friends need to be educated concerning the realities of cognitive dysfunction and MS. Without accurate information, those around you may attribute your cognitive changes to stress, depression, age, menopause, stubbornness, laziness, or any of a myriad of other mistaken notions.
In addition, many of the strategies you work out for yourself will require active cooperation on the part of family members, friends, and coworkers. For example, if you establish quiet times and places to do your work, those around you will need to respect those boundaries. If you institute a family calendar and telephone message center, everyone must establish new habits to make the system work. Most important, you need your family and friends to understand your limitations without treating you with condescension. Their expectations for you should be set neither too high nor too low.
Cognitive changes, like other symptoms of MS, can have wide-ranging effects on any number of everyday activities. Fortunately, these cognitive problems generally are not severe and can be countered in a variety of ways. Look for practical solutions. Even simple self-help strategies can help you regain control over your life. Focus on what you can do, then do it well. You may be pleasantly surprised by the results.
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