Many people are aware that multiple sclerosis (MS) has physical symptoms. What they may not know is that having MS can also affect cognition. Cognition is a term used to describe high-level brain functions, like memory, organization, problem solving, and language skills. In fact, cognitive problems are often the first symptoms that appear when a person has MS. Understanding how MS affects cognition can make it easier to cope with the condition.
Cognitive Changes that May Occur.
First, it’s important to keep in mind that MS is a complicated disease that doesn’t affect everyone in the same manner. However, some cognitive problems that may occur are:
- Short-Term Memory Problems. Having MS can impact a person’s ability to remember information they recently learned. They may be unable to remember a phone number that they just looked up. Or, they may not remember whether or not they took medications.
- Trouble with Problem-Solving. People with MS might have problems understanding the steps needed to complete a task or make plans.
- Difficulty Concentrating. Your aging relative might have difficulty sticking to the task at hand because their attention may wander.
- Slower Processing. Thinking may slow down so that it takes the person longer to grasp something they are reading or something they heard. This can also make it harder for them to notice social cues and can affect spatial reasoning, causing them to get lost easily.
Tips for Managing Changes.
You may not be able to “fix” the cognitive problems your older family member is having because of MS, but there are steps you can take to make living with them easier. Here are some tips to manage cognitive changes:
- Talk to the Doctor About Mood Changes. Living with the physical and cognitive changes of MS can be emotionally taxing. If you notice that your aging relative seems depressed or anxious, talk to the doctor. There are treatments available.
- Explain Changes to Others. Encourage the older adult not to be embarrassed about the changes. Instead, it can be helpful to explain them to others. Understanding that the cognitive problems are symptoms of the disease can foster patience in others.
- Create an Information Hub. Designate a space in the older adult’s home where they keep all important information, such as mail, bills, the calendar, and to-do lists. This way, the senior knows where to find the information they need.
- Use Reminders. Write reminder notes and post them in a visible area. If the senior uses a smartphone, set reminders for appointments, medication, and other information on it.
Elder care can also help your aging relative to deal with cognitive symptoms. Elder care providers can remind them when it’s time to take medicine or that they have an upcoming appointment. Elder care providers can also assist with setting up the information hub and ensure that important information is placed there. Also, the elder care provider can act as an advocate for the senior during outings or when people visit, ensuring the senior receives the assistance and patience they deserve.
If you have a loved one who could benefit from elder care in Danville, CA, contact the caregivers at A Better Living Home Care Agency. We help seniors and their families with many levels of home care. Call 925-566-2366 for more information.