Managing Cognitive Symptoms

As Huntington’s disease progresses, an individual’s ability to plan, organise and execute daily tasks can be affected. The following strategies can help in managing cognitive symptoms:

 

Huntington's Victoria - Routine - Huntington's Disease Australia

Importance of Routine

Routine plays a crucial role in helping with memory retention and recall. Our brains are wired to thrive on structure and consistency, and incorporating routine into our daily lives can significantly enhance our memory function. Put in place a routine that is accessible to you, fits in with your lifestyle but is flexible enough to accommodate for the need for any unforeseen changes. This will mitigate any circumstances that would cause you any undue stress and anxiety.  Whether it’s a morning ritual, a study routine, or a consistent schedule for daily activities, establishing a regular pattern of behaviour will help your memory.

Huntington's Victoria - Visual Aids - Huntington's Disease Australia

Visual Aids

Visual aids are powerful tools that you can use that significantly enhance memory retention and comprehension. The human brain processes visual information more efficiently than textual or auditory information. The use of visual aids stimulates various parts of the brain, leading to better understanding and retention of information. For instance, the use of a weekly calendar can assist you with your memory and help you follow your routines. Photo displays of family, friends and/or your interests is another type of visual aid that makes emotional connections between different pieces of information or events in your life. This can be a very useful aid information associated with emotions is more likely to be retained because it activates the amygdala, a part of the brain associated with emotional processing and memory consolidation leading to a more robust and lasting memory of the content.

Huntington's Victoria - Prompting - Huntington's Disease Australia

Importance of Supervision and Prompting

You may have the physical ability to complete tasks of daily living, but your ability to plan, arrange and complete tasks is affected. Your friends and family can assist you by providing you with useful ‘prompts’ or ‘directions’ at the appropriate times.

Huntington's Victoria - Communication - Huntington's Disease Australia

Communication Strategies

Adopting communication strategies can play a vital role in overcoming the challenges for your loved ones, friends and others that led to misunderstanding or miscommunication. This can include the acceptance of simple techniques by those around you such as asking open-ended questions, using prompts or cues that stimulate a response from you, and allow you sufficient time to be able to respond.

Huntington's Victoria - Distractions - Huntington's Disease Australia

Minimise Distractions

The presence of distractions can exacerbate your cognitive symptoms by diverting your attention away from the immediate task at hand and making it harder for you to concentrate, remember information, or complete tasks. By removing or minimising the impact of those distractions in your immediate environment you will improve your ability to respond to plan and execute tasks.

Huntington's Victoria - Neuropsychology - Huntington's Disease Australia

Neuropsychology Assessment

Neuropsychology assessments are an important tool that you can utilise to monitor your disease progression and to determine the impacts of Huntington’s disease on your memory and cognition at any point in time.

Huntington's Victoria - GP - Huntington's Disease Australia

Regular General Practitioner and Huntington’s Specialist review

Have active contact with your General Practitioner and Huntington’s Specialist to check any changes in your symptom presentation and for medication review. Given there is no specific Huntington’s medical treatments at this time your current medication regime may no longer be therapeutic as the disease progresses. Therefore, it is important that you visit your General Practitioner and Huntington’s Specialist so they can monitor your symptoms and proactively update your medical management as needed.