Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic illness that targets the body’s central nervous system (brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves). It can be very debilitating and strikes people between 20 and 40 years old.
The complications that accompany MS can affect the entire family, but can be helped by home help services provided by a caregiver agency. Physically, MS can cause abnormal reflexes, tremors, slurred speech, bladder and bowel issues, impaired vision and fatigue or weakness.
To help loved ones living with the condition, it is helpful to know the answer to some common questions:
1. What are my options?
It’s important that anyone with MS knows that there is always more that can be done to make their situation better. If a doctor says he or she have “nothing more to offer,” the National MS Society (1-800-344-4867) can recommend alternative health care professionals and other resources.
2. How can I stay independent?
A person’s MS symptoms may progress to the point where they make daily activities more difficult. This change can threaten a person’s self-worth and confidence. They can also take away a person’s independence. This does not have to be the case. By learning to do activities differently and taking advantage of assistive technology or the help of an in-home caregiver, a person living with MS can stay active and productive.
3. How can I stay safe?
Many caregiver agencies, such as Homewatch CareGivers, provide fall-risk assessments to determine if any hazards in a person’s home can be dangerous. Additionally, medically-knowledgeable caregivers look for any troublesome red flags that can pop up with a person’s condition. Furthermore, rehabilitation specialists can help a person with MS understand how assistive technologies can modify a person’s living environment both at home and at work.
4. What if I feel depressed?
According to the National MS Society, it is common for a person living with MS to face depression and other mood changes. The losses that often accompany the disease can bring a strong sense of grief. To combat this, it is important for those with MS to have others to rely on for support. This can be family, friends, or a companion from a caregiver agency. Homewatch CareGivers believes in helping clients not only physically, but also caring for a person’s emotional and social well-being.
5. How do I avoid complications?
Those with advanced forms of MS can be more susceptible to osteoporosis, pressure sores, pneumonia, and severe bladder or kidney infections. To reduce the risk of these complications, it is important for people with MS to go to regular check-ups with a doctor and report any changes in symptoms. Homewatch CareGivers helps by providing transportation to and from doctor’s appointments and keeps communication with health care providers open through client care coordination. By creating a circle of care around a person, it makes sure no gaps in care occur and keeps a person’s needs met.
Help for the Family Caregiver
Providing ongoing care for someone living with MS can be very difficult – no matter how much a family member or friend cares about their loved one. Homewatch CareGivers is available to provide temporary or regular respite care and support. The National MS Society also has resources for family caregivers.