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How to Help a Friend With MS

By Daryl H. Bryant (595 words)
Posted in Living with MS on August 28, 2018

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How to Help a Friend With MS

Navigating adult friendships can be difficult, especially when you throw in a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis. You want to help your friend, but you don’t want them to feel self conscious, or like they are a burden. You want to provide support, but you also want them to know they can still call you to have fun. The key is balance. Read on to learn how to help a friend with MS.

Research MS, But Check Your Negativity

Save your friend the trouble of explaining MS one more time. Do a little research about the disease so you can understand what they are living with; and what they are reading online and probably stressing out about. As you are traveling down the rabbit hole that is the internet’s disease horror stories, remember: living with MS is different for every person. Your friend’s symptoms will be very different from the symptoms you read about online, and their severity may vary with time. Multiple Sclerosis is NOT a death sentence, and does not mean your friend can no longer live a fulfilling life.

Pay Attention to How MS Affects Your Friend

Every person has different needs. The best way to be a friend is to pay close attention to your friend; what they are saying, how they are acting, and how they seem to be feeling. Many people struggle to ask for help and don’t want to feel like a burden. Your best bet for determining how you can help is to look for clues in their behavior. Changes in behavior usually mean something is going on, though it may not always be due to MS symptoms.  Learn how to help your friend deal with MS.

Help Without Asking (If Your Relationship Is Close Enough)

If you are fairly close with your friend, it may be better to help without offering, as this will save them from having to accept your offer — which may be difficult for some people. If you see dishes or other chores that need to be done when you come over, just start doing them while you talk about the kids. They may protest, but you will be able to tell if they are just doing so to be polite, or if you’ve overstepped. Most times, people will be happy to accept help. If you are not very close to the friend you want to help, always be sure to ask. But be specific with your offer. Don’t ask if you can help with anything; ask if they need a ride anywhere or could use some help around the house or want you to watch the kids for a day. Once you’re in a routine of helping, then you can ask if they need help generally — once they trust you enough to know you will come through and not begrudge helping. Learn 4 ways you can help someone with MS.

No matter what you do to help your friend, remember to play the role of friend more than the role of caregiver (unless you are their caregiver, in which case this post may be helpful). Despite having MS, your friend is still an adult and doesn’t want to be treated like a child. Be respectful and have fun together just like you always have. Your emotional support is just as important as anything else you have to offer.

Want to learn more? Learn the 4 steps to help your loved one cope with MS and how you can raise MS awareness.

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