Memory problems are very commonly reported by people with MS, and can cause frustration and dismay. Everyone forgets things sometimes, and most people with MS do not experience severe memory problems. There are a number of strategies that can help, whether you have MS or not.
A primary memory problem is difficulty in registering and/or remembering information. Having a problem with primary memory can have a knock-on effect on other thinking skills.
We use our memory for verbal information very extensively every day. For example, when we meet someone we will usually refer to the last conversation we had with them. When we switch on a TV drama, we remember what happened to the characters in the previous episode to follow the plot in the new episode we are watching. After a visit to the doctor, we rely on our verbal memory to have stored what was said and make the information available to us when we need it in the future.
Because memory is a very wide-ranging skill and information is remembered in different ways, assessing exactly where one person's weakness lies can take time. A cognitive psychologist can work with you to discover whether you find visual information (pictures, drawings, photos) easier to register and remember than verbal information (spoken words, read words). If so, then the therapy strategies can concentrate on pictures, either on paper or in your mind.
It may be that a memory aid will be helpful to you, and the health professional can help with identifying which aid is appropriate and how much help you will need to use it.
If you are experiencing lapses of memory, the people around you may not have noticed. In that case, your problems must be mild. You may still want to share your experiences with them. You can let them know what strategies you are using. You may not need any direct help from them, but you may want their understanding.
If the people around you have noticed your memory lapses, your memory problems may be more significant. However, it is unlikely that your family and friends will have linked these memory problems to your MS. Once you let them know that you want to discuss your memory problems with them, they are likely to be interested and want to help. This may mean that of something important is coming up, they can either remind you themselves, or leave written prompts.