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Being There: How to Help a Friend with Multiple Sclerosis

By Daryl H. Bryant (737 words)
Posted in Living with MS on July 29, 2014

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Being There: How to Help a Friend with Multiple Sclerosis

When a friend or family member is diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), they may withdraw from the people and activities they were once fond of. Their diagnosis will require them to re-evaluate their life plans and goals, and these changes can be very difficult for some patients. As a loved one, you can become an awesome support system by learning about their disease and helping them cope. Sometimes they may be in a bad mood and resist your help, but don’t take it personally. These tips will help you to be supportive, understanding, and helpful for your friends and family members with MS.

Be Understanding
First and foremost, try to understand their symptoms and what they’re going through. MS affects each patient differently, so learn about their particular symptoms and research ways in which you can offer assistance. When you understand the disease and its symptoms, you can plan ahead for social outings and carry necessary supplies with you, such as cooling packs or protein bars. A great thing to do is to study the disease together. Terminal diagnoses can be very alienating, but by offering to learn with them as they cope and adjust to the disease, you are providing them with a stable support system that is extremely valuable.

Be Supportive
Saying nice things, giving them a call on the phone, and consistently inviting them on social outings are all great signs of showing your support. These acts will make it clear to them that you are not viewing their diagnosis as debilitating and that you still wish to carry on your relationship as if nothing has changed. If they seem down or their symptoms are flaring up, modify your plans to better accommodate their needs. Make it clear that they are not a burden by joining them in whichever activities they feel most comfortable doing.

Be Entertaining
Laughter is the best medicine, and fostering a positive attitude will help improve their well-being and lighten the mood, especially when MS takes a tool on their good mood. Watch a funny movie together, regale them with a hilarious anecdote, or simply sit together sharing jokes. Entertainment also means being a soundboard, so let your friend or family member express their ideas, jokes, and even frustrations to you. Help to distract them from the disease by being the good friend that you are and entertaining them in the personal way you know best.

Be Helpful
Your friend or family member will not want to seem like a burden, but you can always offer to help out in little ways. Offering to drive, carrying in the groceries, or bringing over dinner are great ways to provide assistance without appearing overbearing or overprotective. Respect their boundaries and encourage them to be independent, but expect them to need assistance with daily activities and household chores, especially when their MS symptoms are flaring up. If you are unsure, ask how you can be helpful. Simply offering the gesture can be comforting enough.

As you and your friends and family adjust to the changes a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis brings, remain helpful, supportive, and understanding. Don’t discuss medications or procedures unless they are comfortable with those conversations, and be open to the different treatments they explore. It’s not fair to expect them to be positive and optimistic all the time, so respect their mood swings and offer to be there as a cheerful pick-me-up. Helping someone with MS is as easy as being there for them when they need you most and remaining positive, even when it feels hard to do so. 

Books on Multiple Sclerosis msBook3D.jpg

There are many books on Multiple Sclerosis that you may find helpful and offer support for those living with the disease.  MS is not an easy disease to understand and when it effects your loved one, it's very difficult to get in the mindset of what they are going through.  When I wrote my book on MS, I wanted to share my personal journey for not only those living with MS, but those whare are caregivers and loved ones of those who are effected.  I've been told by countless people that my book has helped them to understand their friend and loved one.  

Help your friend and loved one and purchase this book on Multiple Sclerosis.

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