MS and Your Brain

You can keep your memory sharp with some easy tips and tricks -- from old-fashioned sticky notes to high-tech gadgets.

Tools to Help You Remember

Digital recorder. Carry one with you. When you need to remember a name, phone number, or date, record a note to yourself. Write down the info or type it into your computer when you get home.

Cell phone camera. Use it to snap a photo of new people, places, and things. Email the pictures to yourself with a note so you'll remember them later.

Calendar. Use the one on your computer or cell phone to keep track of your schedule. Set it to send you reminders a few days or hours before a birthday, meeting, or other event.

If you're not a big fan of technology, write important dates on an old-fashioned paper calendar.

GPS system. Get one for your car and put an app on your cell phone so you don't get lost. Type in the address you're going to and you'll get step-by-step directions by car or on foot.

Buy a pillbox. Use it to organize your daily medicine. Some have built-in alarms that alert you when it's time to take your medicine.

Tricks to Keep Organized

White board. Put one on your fridge or other area where you spend a lot of time. Write notes and to-do lists on it.

Post-it notes. They're a good way to jog your memory. Stick them around your house, office, and in your car.

Box or bin for everyday items. Place it in a central area, like the kitchen. Put in your car keys, glasses, and other things you often use. You can also set aside a folder for important papers.


Tips to Improve Recall

"Picture" a word. When you meet someone for the first time, connect the person's name to an image in your mind. With a man named Bob, you might imagine someone bobbing for apples. The name April could bring to mind a spring tree in bloom.

Repeat new names and facts. Saying the words out loud will help them stick in your mind.

Take your time. It's harder to remember when you're rushed or under stress. When you learn something new, take a deep breath, pause, and concentrate on it for a few seconds.

Work on one task at a time. Turn off distractions like the TV, radio, and cell phone so you can concentrate.

Other Ideas to Sharpen Memory

"Exercise" your brain. Read challenging books, do crossword puzzles, or play word games. Research suggests that people with MS who keep up that kind of mental activity have less trouble learning and remembering.

Play games. Over the last few years, many "train-your-brain" computer programs have popped up on the Internet. Although the research on brain training is new, it's encouraging. Studies show it might improve short-term memory. One study even showed that playing a racing video game helped improve focus and memory. But more research is needed to see if it really helps.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on July 12, 2019



Anguera, J.A. Nature, September 2013.

Leavitt, V.M. Neurocase, 2014.

Melby-Lervag. Developmental Psychology, 2013.

Multiple Sclerosis Society UK: "Tips for dealing with memory and thinking problems."

National MS Society: "Cognitive Changes," "Exercise."

News release, American Academy of Neurology.

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