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You CAN ...

Backup Your Memory! 
Just as the physical symptoms of MS can vary considerably from person to person, cognitive changes can as well.
(The MS Information


Also of interest...
Cognitive Rehabilitation (and more tips for remembering)



Memory problems hit up to 60% of people with MS.

The good news is that You CAN compensate for your shaky memory. In general, there are two ways:

  • Remediation—exercises designed to improve memory function usually developed by a speech pathologist, occupational therapist, or neuropsychologist.

  • Compensation—strategies designed to make up for or avoid memory lapses.


Tools rule

You can start using compensation strategies immediately to supplement your memory.


  • Be more organized.
  • Use memory aids.

Here are some suggestions:

At Home


Consolidate and centralize! Designate one place in your home as the “Grand Central” information center.



central location

Put up a calendar large enough to keep track of everyone’s appointments, activities, and social engagements, with pens or markers hanging right beside it.

OR keep a computer in a central area with a calendar program. Set it up with a monthly schedule of reminders for routine tasks. Log on at regular times every day.

Make a place for mail, bills, phone messages, to-do lists, keys, wallet, shopping lists, and more.

If your reminders and information are scattered everywhere, your chances of forgetting obligations skyrockets.

On the Go


Take a small notebook or day planner with you as an extension of the home calendar. Log appointments, phone calls, things to do, and important instructions every day.

OR use a personal digital assistant (PDA) or a Blackberry. Program your PDA to remind you of tasks or appointments.

OR use a digital voice recorder to record your to-do list or other things to remember. It’s also easy to make notes to yourself on the go. Many can transfer information to a computer program.



Whatever tool, keep it with you at all times and transfer information to/from the home calendar regularly.

Other tips



  • Keep the system simple! Limit your memory aids to one at home and one to go. This should make backing-up your memory manageable and stress-free.

  • Use your memory tools consistently. Routine makes it easier to remember and get things done.


These tips brought to you by The Heuga Center, promoting health and creating hope for people with MS for more than 20 years, and by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Author: Janet De Clark, MA, CCC/SLP
Contributing editors: Brian Hutchinson, PT, President, The Heuga Center; InsideMS Magazine.

You CAN! is brought to you with the help of The Heuga Center as a reminder that despite the challenges MS may bring, you have a whole life to live.

We encourage you to visit You CAN! regularly. Topics change every other month.


Additional Resources

National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 2006