Monday, May 16, 2011

short term memory Multiple Sclerosis

“Problems with short-term memory” is one of those phrases that people from professionals to friends & family nod at or make murmuring sounds of consensus that it’s “common with MS”. Yet does anyone have a clue as to what exactly is short term memory, much less problems? Psychoscientists and psychobabbleists fill books on the conscious mind, short-term vs long-term memory, and primary vs active memory. Brits even offer a category of “dottiness” (amiably eccentric).

Long story made short, lesions in multiple areas of the brain, atrophy of damaged brain tissue, and short circuiting of nerves within the brain transmitting memories all can contribute to and confound memory problems associated with Multiple Sclerosis.

Recently I had the pleasure of sitting in on a memory therapy session at Patti’s care facility. Even when the session began with the set back of Patti being unable to remember the therapist’s name, they stayed with the friendly routine of memory exercises, often interrupted with laughter. Conceding the obstacles of MS and memory, the therapist remarked that while Patti is not her most successful patient she is her most enjoyable.

There is no cookie cutter MS patient and recommended encouragement in mentally stimulating activities like crossword puzzles, word games, and regular exercise are obviously thwarted by Patti’s other MS related challenges of visual impairment (legally blind), non-ambulatory and dependency on others. As are most low tech and high tech tips and tricks for helping short term memory.

Observing therapy it reinforced my years of intuitive involvement of Patti in outings of the minutiae of life, from errands to family to fun. I always believed that even though dependent it should not preclude her from remaining engaged. Though I concede this is caregiver time demanding.

Not unlike physical exercise the brain needs a work out routine. Memory in MS is so much more than forgetting why you walked into a room. It ripples into self-mage, concentration, reasoning, word finding, conversation, and safety.

When it comes to memory, maybe it’s less about Freud and more about RuPaul:
“You better work it, girl ... Work, Sashay! Shante!” 
Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer 
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  1. I liked the therapist's comment about Patti being her most enjoyable patient. I am sure it is a constant "battle" to find what can work or what doesn't work to try to help memory and what memory does one want to work on, i.e., short, long term, people's names, etc. Always a balancing act I'm sure (but you do it well......)

    hope you are enjoying spring weather!!


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