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15 Things To Remember If Your Loved Ones Suffer From Multiple Sclerosis

15 Things To Remember If Your Loved Ones Suffer From Multiple Sclerosis

Has someone important to you been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS)?  This disease can be hard for patients — as well as their family and friends — to live with.  Here are some important things to remember if you love someone with this disease.

1. They Value Their Independence

Many MS patients, as the diseases progresses, can have problems with muscle control and mobility — and everyday tasks like preparing a meal, walking or going to the bathroom can become a challenge.  But they want to maintain their independence and do for themselves for as long as they possibly can.  It is an important part of their dignity.

2. They Live in Hope

MS is a progressive disease and there is no cure for it. However, they do have hope that this might change.  And research is underway around the world to help find eventually find a cure for this difficult disease. And in the meantime, new MS treatments are offering the hope for a better quality of life.

3. They Want to be Acknowledged

As the MS advances, many patients will often become confined to a wheelchair and may have difficulty speaking and some short term memory loss. Oftentimes, other people will feel uncomfortable about this and talk to relatives or doctors as though the patient is not there. People with MS want to be acknowledged and spoken to directly: their IQ is not affected by this disease and they want to be able to communicate just like everyone else.

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4. They are Not Helpless

People with MS can be empowered to take control of managing their disease through many lifestyle choices.  Diet, for instance, can play an important role in MS management and although it cannot cure the disease, it can help with the health of the immune system and the body in general.

5. They are Not Alone

Over 2.5 million people all around the world live with multiple sclerosis every day.  There are 400,000 in the United States alone and around 200 new people are diagnosed with this disease each week.  Because of its prevalence, there are MS support groups all over the country and many people find that joining a support group and getting connected with other who also struggle with this disease is emotionally helpful.

6. They Have Choices

Many patients with MS are choosing the route of complementary and alternative medicines to help manage with condition. Some will do this along with traditional treatments and some in place of them.  These alternatives include herbal therapy, acupuncture and massage therapy, among others.

7. They Do Not All Have the Same Signs and Symptoms

Multiple sclerosis is not a “one size fits all” disease!  It is different for each person who experiences it. There are four types of multiple sclerosis and each one can be mild, moderate or severe.  Not all people with MS will wind up with walkers or wheelchairs.  Not all will have vision or memory problems, either.

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8. They Do Not Have a Fatal Disease

Multiple sclerosis is not considered to be a fatal disease. The life expectancy of someone with MS is only 5-10 years less than that of the general population and with new treatments and better understanding of the disease, even that gap is beginning to close. It is important to note, however, that some complications from MS, like pneumonia, can become life-threatening.

9. They have the Same Interests as Everyone Else

People with MS enjoying going out to eat with friends, visiting a park or museum or going to a place of worship — in short, they have much the same interests as everyone else!  While it can take more planning and preparation to do these things with MS, it is still possible and still an enjoyable experience to get out and live life as fully as possible.

10. They Like to Be Active

Don’t assume that because someone has to use a walker or a wheelchair that they have to “rest” or “take it easy” all the time.  Even as the disease progresses, exercise within reason is considered to be beneficial for MS patients and activity in general can help to keep to boost the immune system and help with symptoms like depression.

11. They Can Struggle with Depression

Because multiple sclerosis can lead to a loss of independence as the diseases progresses and because this disease has no cure, people with MS can struggle with feelings of depression.  It is important to talk to the doctor about these feelings and seek therapy and/or medications — but loving support from family and friends can really help them, too.

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12. They Can Have Vision Problems, Too

Multiple sclerosis affects nerves throughout the body — including the optic nerve which controls vision.  As a result of this, people with MS can struggle with vision at times and have symptoms like blurred or double vision, difficulty controlling the movements of their eyes or even blindness (this is usually in just one eye and usually temporary).

13. They Might have Periods of Remission

Depending upon the type of MS a person has, they can have periods of remission, where the signs and symptoms of the disease seem to get better. This does not mean that they are cured of the disease, however, and these times should be enjoyed as a sort of reprieve when it is possible to get out and do more.  Keep in mind, though, that sooner or later, the MS symptoms will return.

14. They are Sexual Beings like Everyone Else

Even in an age of rights for the disabled, many people are uncomfortable with the idea that people with disabilities have sexual thoughts and feelings — and are capable of sexual expression.  While sex with MS can be more challenging, it is still possible for a couple to have a intimate and satisfying sex life even with this disease.  Good communication between the sexual partners is very important — just as it is in any relationship!

15. They Can Still Have Children

Women who get MS are often diagnosed in their 20’s or 30’s — when they are still of childbearing age.  And many women with this disease go on to have healthy pregnancies and give birth to healthy children — though often they must deliver by Caesarian section (C-section).  Don’t assume that because a young woman has MS that she is infertile and not interested in having children.

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So if someone you love has MS, keep these things in mind.  Because as with many chronic diseases, the loving support of family and friends is vital for emotional health and a good quality of life.

Featured photo credit: IM Free via depositphotos.com

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Brian Wu

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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