Memory Loss from Multiple Sclerosis

by Rocknurse

I'm 58 years young, and due to multiple sclerosis my short term memory has become almost non existent. It has been slowly yet steadily been declining.

memory problems story
My neurologist has tried a wide assortment of medications and vitamins to no avail. My long term memory is still very much intact.

Truthfully, what helps me deal with it more than anything else has been marijuana. It doesn't help my memory but it helps me not care so much that I've lost my short term memory.

Of course I'm very lucky that my wife helps as much as she does.

Doug's Reply. I have a relative with MS and know it can be quite debilitating.

I wonder, have you tried using organizational tools to help you throughout the day? For example, many people with short-term memory loss like to carry around a pocket notebook to jot down things they need to remember. Index cards or electronic personal organizers also seem to help. You can write your daily schedule down on these tools and carry it around with you.

At home, consider hanging a dry erase marker board in your kitchen or near the front door. These are great for list making and can be reused over and over.

You might want to consult with your neurologist about the use of brain games. One of the most exciting advancements in this area in recent years was the discovery that dual n-back training can strengthen working memory. (You can play dual n-back for free on my site.)

Since working memory and short-term memory are closely related, it may be true that training working memory could help improve short-term memory.

Here's the difference: As its name implies, short-term memory means literally storing information in your memory for a short period of time. In contrast, working memory means both remembering and manipulating or organizing the information.

So, it may be that in exercising working memory, you would exercise short-term memory at the same time.

This is just my hunch. You would need to play the dual n-back game consistently for awhile to find out if your short-term memory actually improved. One dual n-back session a day for two weeks straight should give you some indication whether it is working. (A session takes about 20 minutes.)

You might also want to look into memory training. In a study by the Kessler Foundation that appeared in the Journal of Neurology, it was found that MS patients who learned to use a modified Story Memory Technique (similar to the Link Memory Technique) experienced a measurable improvement in their memory.

The study even implied that insurance might pay for such training:
These benefits may warrant third-party reimbursement for this intervention in selected patients.
In any case, I'd encourage you to continue talking with your doctor and other multiple sclerosis specialists as appropriate about other possibilities for managing your memory loss. New research comes out all the time, so there is certainly reason for hope.

Best of luck to you. My visitors and I will keep you in our thoughts and prayers. I'd invite anyone reading this who has experience with multiple sclerosis to post any helpful and supportive advice they might have.

This is information only. It is not medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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