Finding Things

Tips and Tricks

We all forget where we have put things at times, and this may get worse when we are stressed or tired. But sometimes MS itself can mean that our attention wanders just for the moment when we put down our car keys, and then something else crops up and we never really register that we left them on the kitchen worktop. Keeping track of all of our actions and decisions can be a tough call.

Other Important Influences

There are a number of outside factors that might make your mental skills less efficient:

Professional Help

If your major difficulty is finding things, then your health professional may want to determine what aspect of mental skill is underlying the problem. For example,

MS Trust Publications

Cognition in the A-Z of MS

This A-Z entry describes the range of cognitive problems that can occur with MS difficulties with short-term memory, concentration, verbal fluency - and discusses ways to approach managing the various problems.

More general information about MS

Making Sense of MS

If you've just been diagnosed, this small postcard-sized booklet is a good place to start learning about MS. It provides a brief introduction to multiple sclerosis and answers the questions most commonly asked after diagnosis.

At work with MS

The resource considers some of the ways in which MS might affect work, the protection afforded under the Equality Act and what adjustments can be made for a successful working life with MS.

MS and me

A self-management guide to living with MS. Looks at setting goals, problem solving and healthy living, explores how to better understand your symptoms and how working with health professionals can help you make decisions and treatment choices.

Living with fatigue

Fatigue is one of the commonest symptoms of MS and can have a major impact on daily life. Living With Fatigue was written in conjunction with an MS specialist occupational therapist and illustrated with comments by people with MS who know what it is like to live with the symptom.

Open Door

Quarterly newsletter that contains articles news and research relevant to people living with MS and their families.

Involving Family and Friends

If you are having difficulty finding things and would like to put some of the tips we suggest into practice, it is likely that the people around you will notice what you are doing. This might be a good time to tell them about your experiences. If they are close family members at home, you could ask for their help in checking diary entries for the next day, or reminder sticky notes being in the right places. This will help them to share your experiences and be able to support you and offer suggestions to make finding things even easier.


Cognitive Difficulties

There are a number of studies which show that some people with MS do have difficulty with remembering positions and places. The cognitive skill shown to be weak is called “spatial memory” (literally where things are in the space around you and in relation to each other). The studies rely on abstract tasks (e.g. counters on a grid). They may not be closely linked to real life experience.

Further Reading

Gmeindl L, Courtney SM. Deconstructing spatial working memory and attention deficits in multiple sclerosis. Neuropsychology. 2012 Jan;26(1):57-70.

Pardini M, Bergamino M, Bommarito G, Bonzano L, Luigi Mancardi G, Roccatagliata L. Structural correlates of subjective and objective memory performance in multiple sclerosis. Hippocampus. 2013 Dec 12. [Epub ahead of print]


Some computerised training tasks have been shown to improve spatial memory.

Further Reading

Janssen A, Boster A, Lee H, Patterson B, Prakash RS. The effects of video-game training on broad cognitive transfer in multiple sclerosis: A pilot randomized controlled trial. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2015;37(3):285-302.

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