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4 Steps to Help Your Loved One Cope with MS

By Daryl H. Bryant (686 words)
Posted in Living with MS on January 5, 2015

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4 Steps to Help Your Loved One Cope with MS

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that can potentially dominate your own life as well as the lives as those closest to you. However, that doesn’t mean that life is over. Helping someone deal with MS only requires a few schedule changes and a lot of communication and understanding. If one of your loved ones has been diagnosed with MS, they may feel completely overwhelmed and anxious, but there are many things you can do to help them cope with their diagnosis and continue leading full and healthy lives.

Learn About MS

First and foremost, ask questions and do your own research regarding MS. Because MS affects each patient differently, talking with your loved one about their particular symptoms is very important. Finding out what’s happening to them and how they are coping with it will help you discover coping mechanisms that work for the both of you.

If you cannot attend doctor’s appointments with your loved ones, there are many resources online that can help you understand the disease and its symptoms, like reading about the disease and preventative measures on MS blogs and visiting message boards and forums where patients and their loved ones can exchange questions, concerns, and helpful tips.

Check-In with Your Loved One Regularly

As you start to understand the disease, you will realize that emotional support is extremely important. That is why it is important that you check in on your loved one, both physically and emotionally. A simple phone call to a friend will go a long way, especially if they are feeling especially defeated that day.

If your spouse or partner has MS, subtle affectionate interactions will be a strong reminder that you are there for them. Holding their hand while you sit on the couch or accompanying them on doctors’ visits your support and availability. Remain consistent with your visits, phone calls, and affection so your loved one knows that they can rely on you. Often, patients feel like a burden on family and friends, and it will be your job to remind them that they are not.

Build a Social Life

Because MS can debilitate physical movement and emotional well-being, you may start to see your loved one avoid social situations or lose interest in activities they once enjoyed. Help them maintain a social life by choosing activities and outings that are easy, relaxing, and/or low-stress.

If going out becomes more difficult as the disease progresses further, bring friends to them. Hosting a small get-together or party in your loved one’s own home will reduce the stress of having a symptom outbreak in an unfamiliar place. Within the home, bathrooms are convenient, medication is nearby, and your loved one will not have to worry about accommodations while out on the town.  

Plan for the Future

Along with helping your loved one maintain and healthy and rewarding social life, you can also help them plan for the future. Do not let them fall under the belief that they can no longer anticipate fun activities or vacations simply because they have been diagnosed with MS.

While you visit with your loved one, remind them of hobbies they once loved but never had the chance to explore. Offer to explore these new activities with them by taking classes together, attending events with them, or simply giving them a ride to and from these activities. MS will mean your loved one will have to prioritize their activities and make time to rest, and you can help out by helping them devise a schedule and remind them to rest.

In conclusion

Helping your loved one reduce their stress is a key method in helping them cope with their MS diagnosis. By following these steps and educating yourself about the disease, you will be able to be an active supporter as they deal with the new changes in their lifestyle. Take the time out of your day to check in on them and offer assistance when needed, whether that is in the form of a hug or a car ride. Helping your loved one cope with their MS will not only help them survive, it will also strengthen your relationship.

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