If you’re like many people with MS who sometimes struggle with cognitive dysfunction symptoms – some prefer to call it “mental fog” – then you’re probably wondering how others deal with this fog that creeps over you and leaves you standing in the middle of the room wondering what your plan was and why you’re holding your car keys in your hand. Mental fog is frustrating and it can be hard for your loved ones to understand what you’re going through when you’re having an episode.

Try these simple tips to better deal with symptoms like memory problems, loss of attention, or verbal difficulties. Persevere until you find strategies that work for you when the fog floats in.

  • Focus and simplify – We are all so used to juggling multiple tasks that it’s hard to realize that when you’re dealing with the MS cognitive dysfunction, it’s a good idea to focus on the task at hand and not try to do something else at the same time. If you’re doing the laundry, then just do the laundry. If you’re talking on the phone, don’t be looking up a recipe for dinner.
  • Calendar or post-it – Some people don’t like the idea of writing down reminders or making a list of things you’ve already done that day; but others find that written reminders and/or task checklists really work for them. Try it and see if it helps you.
  • Reduce distractions – If the TV or radio is blaring in the background, it can be a real distraction to what you’re trying to accomplish or comprehend. In fact, many MS people with mental fog have found that creating a calm and serene setting really helps them concentrate and recall and helps clear the verbal disconnect from their head.
  • Talk one-on-one – Don’t have conversations with big groups of people when you’re in the midst of a mental fog episode. Talk directly to one person, making eye contact and asking for clarification if you didn’t understand what that person said.

Ask your healthcare team for a referral to a MS cognitive therapist; these people can teach you all sort of strategies to better deal with those foggy days.