Cognitive Dysfunction

The lupus fog can be frustrating.  One person complains, “I suffer from cognitive dysfunction. I constantly forget things, become confused, have trouble finding the right words. Is there anything I can do to help myself?” 

Developing effective strategies to compensate for memory and concentration difficulties can help you feel more in control.
 
Here are some suggestions: 
 
Establish daily routines that can be performed automatically. Following the same pattern will help you avoid the frustration of trying to remember if you turned the heat off or locked the door. Park you car in the same place at stores, malls, offices and places you frequently go to. 
 
Post a list of steps to follow each day until your routine becomes automatic. Use lists at home and at work. Writing down your tasks and plans both reminds you to do the action and cements it in your memory. 
 
Write your “to do” lists on calendars or daily organizers. Set reasonable time frames for your activities. 
Establish weekly schedules for shopping, laundry, banking and other errands. 
 
Make a daily schedule for medication that includes the time, medication and dosage.
User timers to help you with tasks, cooking, chores and taking medication, etc. 
Act deliberately and concentrate on the information you want to retain. Say things out loud e.g. “I am putting these tickets in my dresser drawer until we leave on vacation.” According to I. Jon Russell, M.D. of the University of Texas, information must be retained in your mind for 15 seconds before it can be processed in your memory and stored for retrieval. 
 
Takes notes when conversing with others and especially at doctor’s appointments. 
 
Develop labeled file systems for paperwork, bills, medical information, various doctors, financial information, etc. 
 
Keep your keys in the same place in your purse or pocket and at home. Always have an extra set of house and car keys hidden in a safe place. Tell a trustworthy family member or friend of your hiding place. 
 
If you are unable to tackle your memory problem without assistance, ask your doctor for a referral to a cognitive therapist who can help you to improve your cognitive functioning through formal exercises in intellectual problem solving, cognitive organization, memory skills and energy conservation techniques.