Multiple Sclerosis Community
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429700 tn?1308007823

Attention Deficit Disorder, Memory and Cognitive Issues

This is usually diagnosed in younger people, but here I am practically 50 and I find myself unable to pay attention to conversation or read longer texts like books.  To my surprise, my neuro diagnosed this problem about a year ago.  My memory is terrible, too.  I guess this may not be a symptom of ADD, but it adds to this problem.   I have hearing loss, too, so I usually blame my lack of understanding on my hearing.  It is quite embarrasing that I have to ask someone to repeat something over and over again to catch what they are saying.  I understand probably about 50% of a longer conversation.  I cannot talk on the phone long because I get so fatigued trying hard to figure out what someone is saying.  Plus, I miss the visual clues that you would normally have in face-to-face conversation.  I would probably say that I understand even less on the telephone.

Also, I have terrible memory issues.  This year, I've noticed that I cannot remember names of students that I taught last year!  I also have noticed that I cannot remember seeing movies that I've seen recently.  I have rented movies that I've seen, watched practically all of it, and then sometimes it clicks that I've seen it.  Many times my husband tells me that I've seen the movie with him.  He can recall all of the details of the movie, so I know I've seen it (he wouldn't see a movie unless I was with him).

To make things worse, the hearing is terrible, too.  I've noticed more moments where I've lost my hearing completely out of one ear.  These episodes last about two minutes, but it's two minutes of terror.  A couple of years ago, I saw an audiologist who said that I have sensorineural hearing loss and recommended hearing aids for both ears.  I cannot afford the hearing aids, though.  My health insurance doesn't cover any of the cost, so I have to go without.

I take Provigil right now for the fatigue, and my neuro says that it helps with the ADD; however, I am just as scatterbrained as ever taking more Provigil.   ADD and other cognitive issues could be the reason I retire early (in a couple of years) or retire on disability.  I want to put this off as long as possible, though, because I don't see how I can make ends meet financially.

I am hoping to hear from someone that has been diagnosed with adult-onset ADD and has taken some medicine that helps with this issue.  Maybe someone also has taken a medicine that helps with memory, too.  I see my neuro in the first week of December.  I will talk frankly with him about this issue.  I've mentioned it before--the last time in tears, but this only emphasized to him the depression that I mentioned that I was feeling.  

This forum has been my only source of support.  I no longer complain to my husband, and my sister is far worse off than myself and I don't like bothering her with my problems.  My dear husband comes close to tears when I talk about cognitive issues.  He hates to see me hurting in this way because there's nothing he can do about it.  He is able to deal with my physical complaints of MS way better.  He already does all of the cooking and the majority of the housework.  

I've not any friends outside of work because by the time I get home, I'm too exhausted to do anything!  However, you all on this forum, are there in just a few strokes of the keys (or in my case several strokes of the keys--sorry for the long post, LOL).

Thanks ahead of time for all of what you guys do on this forum.  I am very thankful for my friends here.  
9 Responses
987762 tn?1331027953
Hi Deb,

Is the problem ADD (attention deficit (with out) hyperactivity disorder) or CAPD ( central auditory processing disorder) the reason behind the question is that sx can seemingly overlap, though there is a distinct difference but ADD and ADHD is more widely known.

With ADD the problem is not being able to pay attention due to distraction, internal or external, often their own thoughts are more interesting than what they are suppose to be listening too, visual distraction, auditory distraction and internal mental distraction, the key is distraction is what makes concentrating difficult.

With CAPD the problem has nothing really to do with distraction, the problem is auditory. What the person hears gets scrambled and makes things difficult to comprehend. I liken it to throwing all the words into a blendar (brain) and turning it on (scrambled) then expecting to make sense of the scramble auditory information. A person dealing with CAPD can apear to be distracted but in those moments, they are trying to process the information they are hearing. Snippets of conversation is lost whilst the process is taking place, so when they do tune back in, they discover they are even more confused because they have even less information.

If there is additional hearing damage, it complicates things even more, actually people with CAPD can have cognitive tests that indicate attentional problems when its the way their brain responds or processes auditory information. Tests are mainly auditory and even when there is a component that isn't, knowing what your suppose to do is given in auditory, so they end up with a lower score than they would if they had understood what the task entailed.

Personally I have lost a lot of cognitive skills, its taken me a few hours to write this, and its not due to not being able to type or spell as well as I use to, thats just how long it now takes for me to make sense of what i'm trying to say. I dont believe any drug will truely help, I base that on how the drugs for ADD and the like work and the causation behind MS cognitive issues, being those peskie lesions. With ADD the brain activity is basically like a bee hive of activity, the drugs target and slow down that activity making the brain more able to pay attention.

If thats not the problem, then i can't see how these drugs could be helpful, what i see as being more likely to generate a positive change, is brain training, re-directing the informational high way that has the road block (lesion). I'll stop because i've written a novel already, but there are tips and tricks that you might find helpful, if your interested try reading about brain plasticity.


429700 tn?1308007823
Hi JJ, you are absolutely brilliant!  I think you nailed my problem on the head.  I definitely don't have overactivity of information in my brain, so ADD is less likely the major issue.  I do think that my thoughts are scrambled when I get auditory information.  It is like there's a huge delay between when someone speaks to me until I can figure out what is being said, and lately it is even harder to understand even the simplest of information of what is typically said in a situational setting.  

For instance, I sometimes will not "hear" a waiter ask me what I want to eat.  I will assume he's asking me what I want, and I tell him.  I don't think I really hear what he's saying.  More noise in the background, the worse the problem is.  I can hear that he's speaking to me, but I can't understand a word.

I suppose I may have some attention problems, too.  I do find myself staring out into la-la land with not a real thought in my brain.  This ordinarily happens when I am extremely fatigued.  I usually feel very crummy, and I suppose my focus may be on how bad I'm feeling.

I had considered auditory processing problems a couple of years ago when I saw the audiologist.  I asked the audiologist if he thought that this was the central problem to why I wasn't hearing conversation.  He had said that he tested me for this.  He had me repeat words like "hamburger, hotdog, baseball, etc."  I was able to get every one of these correct.   He had said that I'm not hearing anything above a certain frequency and this was the reason for not hearing people with noise in the background.  

However, I am now wondering whether or if my problem involves more complicated conversation.  I can typically understand single words because it's easier to process.  I also don't remember if he gave me background noise to contend with, either, during that test.  Plus, measuring the delay of single words given will be harder to see the delay, I would think.  I bet you if he gave me a couple of sentences, I wouldn't get it.  

I am pretty sure that the CAPD is my primary issue.   I will research the brain plasticity tips for helping with this problem.  One of my students had a brain tumor in the same area that I have my largest lesion (I can't remember the name of the area).  There were lots of tips in that report in dealing with the auditory processing issues in her doctor's report for the school.  

She has a greater problem with this than I, but I can see similarities.  I notice that when there's auditory information given, she can't process the information if she's not looking at the speaker, not prepared to listen (like getting materials out), or if there's nothing written down for her to look at.  If it's written down, she's got it.  She also needs things repeated over and over again (like me), and she has the same stubborness of wanting to "get" what people are saying without having them take over.  We use a digital recorder for her to record lecture.  

I guess I compensate by writing things down.  I don't often understand what's being said, but if it's written down, I can get by studying it later.  Now if I can organize what I've written down, I'd be way better off!  
Thanks again for making this much clearer, and taking time to answer my question.  
987762 tn?1331027953
Hey Deb,

Its been a long time since i've been called brilliant, :-) i'll take that compliment and wear it with a tad bit of pride. Ahhh you had me cracking up, i thought you wrote 'you nailed me in the head' had to read that bit a few times to work it out lol see even brilliance has a few too many flaws ROFL!

You are correct with your analysis of the single word tests not picking up the problem, it's more likely to be pick up hearing difficulties, those words are specific for sound destinction. Its more comprehensional, having someone speak (entire sentences) none stop for a minute or 2, then the person has to explain what the other person was talking about. Add in background conversation and just like someone with hearing deficit, a CAPD person can't filter out the unnecessary auditory input. The difficulty in comprehension can make it a lot more difficult to learn, not because they can't hear but because the brain turns the information in to scrabled eggs, when you really want sunny side up like everyone else.

It sounds like you have a few issues overlapping each other, (1) possible CAPD (2) hearing of certain frequency probs (3) fatique (4) executive functional issues (5) self esteem, all of which make each individual problem seem and make the situation worse. One of the most powerful tools to use against self esteem issues is knowledge and understanding, you'll be more confident in your self if you understand whats going on and then when you understand what works best for you and making adaptions to suit.

I've got to go, but i'll get back to you with some good tips and tricks, information sites to look at that you might find something thats helpful.

429700 tn?1308007823
I maintain that you are brilliant!  I am very excited about getting some tips and information.  Knowing about this only gives me power in figuring out how to live with this, and hopefully continue working.  

These problems, as you can imagine, have been the greatest of frustration and embarrassment!  I have been placed in very embarrassing situations that has (to be theatrical) scarred me because I was thrust into talking in front a large group of people at work, and I couldn't speak or answer what what was being asked of me.  Plus, just dealing with daily normal communication with co-workers has been difficult.  Needless to say, you are right in your assessment about the self-esteem issues as well.  It has really taken a beating (nailed in the head may actually be a very good analogy, LOL).  

Even if I don't get anything from the tips (which I'm certain won't be true--I will), it is just wonderful to figure out what the problem is.  

Thanks again,
620048 tn?1358018235
I didnt really get all of that and its just me, I dont have a hearing problem  but my brain still does not process things fast enough for me make amy decision or otherise for awhile.

I was confused of you were talking about ADD or just plain old MS.  I do  alot of the same things you do and my Dr asked me if I had been dx with ADD  because I am distract, I am way ahead of my brain.  I get myself in trouble by saying things before I have throughly thought about them.

Its all too much mental energy for me...

987762 tn?1331027953
HI again, Just got back from the dr and we had to vote again for our state election, funny I just found something else I can't do. Hmmm I can't walk and talk and now I discover I can't walk and eat, why I thought i still could is another question. An ozzie tradition when we vote is to also raise money for some local charity, with a bbq, usually a cooked sausage in bread, tomato sauce, onions, cheese etc, the smell is intoxicating but alas not being able to eat one just took all the fun out of voting lol.

Its actually related to the topic (the multi tasking not the sausage lol), simplifying every thing down to manageable components, in the above situation my brain is focused on maintaining the function of walking. If you think about it there is a lot involved in the act of walking, no one thinks about it until it no longer becomes automatic, we then have to think and that takes effort and energy as well.

When any element is added, ie talking, then it requires the brain to multi task and if it basically can't any more, then something goes haywire. So for me, If I stop concentrating on walking which i need to be doing to talk, I instantly start wobbling over to the left, realising this i stop talking to concentrate on walking and then loose what i was saying, it becomes circular and the only thing i can do is stick to doing one thing at a time.

In that same vein, there are things that make comprehending auditory input more difficult and things that make it easier. The first is always going to be 'give your self some credit for what you can comprehend' think about it, if your worried or scared then that emotion gets in the way and adds an element thats unhelpful, so you do need to hold it together, yes I know, easier said than done, but just know it can be done!

Try thinking of what auditory information you do pick up as being similar to skinny notes, bits of information that make up a hole, forget about what you dont pick up, it may actually be irrelevant and thinking about what you've missed does become a distraction and you'll miss even more information. Do you remember sitting in those lecture halls listening to some professor droning on and on, if half of what was said gets in you were lucky, it was those skinny notes that pierced it all together. Knowledge of the topic, logic and confidence was what made you 'think' you understood.

Some reading for you...........

KidsHealth (Nemours Foundation)

'Auditory Processing Disorder'

National Center for Learning Disabilities.

Learning Disabilities OnLine

Paton JW, 'Central auditory processing disorders (CAPDs)'.

Paton JW, 'Living and working with a central auditory processing disorder (CAPD)'.

I have a lot more if you need it

Avatar universal
hi i am 33 and had the same problem. it takes a couple of weeks to get in your system but you will definatley notice a difference. omega 3, helps with the concentration, and memory. tumeric has been studied on rats and actually reverses the affects of alzheimers.. and may help with other cognitive degeneration. also countries where they eat alot of tumeric have little or no alzheimers. also for restlesness which is also associated with adhd, i would strongly recommend being massaged with ylang ylang.. i noticed significant improvements. hope this is of help....
Avatar universal
I've had it all my life.  I am a writer and one of the things that helps me to right is something in sound going on in the background, as it is now.  I can't clean house because I get started on something then find something else and never get ONE thing completely done.  They have nearly every child in America on this medication but will they give it to me, no!  I was on it by a psychiatrist and did well.  I tried to go back to him and he reused because this county I live in has a bunch of drug addicts living here so they can't prescribe it anymore.  My Nerologist gave it to me for awhile but I'm getting out of there.  He nearly killed me by letting his nurse practitioner give me pain patches to get me off of suboxone which does nothing for my pain.  I have fibromyagia, bad thyroid, diabetes 2, you name it!  The pharmacist put on the pain patches to mix them in orange juice and drink it.  If I would have done that I would be dead.  I put it on my back.  Flipped out and cussed every loved one I ever knew,threw my i-phone down busted it, went to the hospital which is a QUACK hospital, never saw a doctor.  The nurse ask if I was lonely and wanted my gym bag I had brought.  By the time I got back to the doctor on Monday I was going through withdrawals, crying, in a fetal position, the other patients waiting, probably 50+ said to let me go ahead of them because they thought I must be dying.  They didn't.  By the time I got in there I had to have 2 IV's at the doctor's office.  The Doctor took my pkg. with the meds in it, I paid $80 for and locked it up in a safe or I would sue him, the pharmacy, and the hospital!  I'm sick of being sick.  Really.
Avatar universal
Thanks to all of you for your posts. I too suffer from adult ADHD. Diagnosed about two years ago. Family physician and psychiatrist started me on Ritalin.  I didn't think it was working so good. Then switched me to Citalopram which made me too nervous. Can't take the time release drugs or stimulants,because they won't allow me to sleep. Now taking Ritalin 2x day 20mg.  Everything was going good for awhile. The past 2 weeks I experience rushes of addrelin where I can't sit and could clean the whole house in like 20 minutes.  It is like I am on speed.  My husband tells me to repeat things because I start to ask a question then my mind takes me into answering my own question.  Then an hour or two later I can be ok and feel a.bit at ease.  ?Don't know why I am getting these rushes.  Has anyone else had to change their ADHD med's because they seemed to not work as well as they once did?  /this will be like the 3rd time in 2 years if I change now. I am going to go back to the gym to walk the treadmill to try to calm me.  
Thanks for listening and your support.
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