In a recent blog, I discussed “clognition”, a term for that rather vague collection of cognitive symptoms common with Parkinson’s disease. As yet there is no cure for “clognition” but that doesn’t mean it is completely unmanageable. To do so, we need to engage in “human engineering.”
Human engineering means that we address cognitive change by strategic planning rather than medications. PD-related cognitive change can be conceptualized as a kind of acquired attention deficit disorder (ADD). This means that the executive function coaches trained to help young people manage their ADD symptoms have a lot to offer folks with PD.
Coaches focus on training people with impaired executive function come up with ways to work around the areas of weakness. For example, if one organizes their day the night before, the problem of freezing cognitively can be minimized. Carrying and following a day planner is also helpful. Using a family member or some of the increasingly sophisticated smart phone apps to assist may be very helpful.
The key to better memory is active processing of information, beginning with how you take it in. If it doesn’t get in accurately, you won’t remember the information. Asking a speaker to repeat what they said may be all you need to remember better. Once you have information in place, rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse. This helps tuck it in a safe place where you can retrieve it later.
You can also do the things your neurologist suggests for general PD management. Exercise has been shown to be helpful for cognition. So are relaxation and meditation. The more you chase information, the faster it retreats.
These helpful hints come from my training in ADD management. They aren’t foolproof, but they will certainly help make the situation manageable.
As always, warmest regards,
The Parkinson's Coach