Living with Multiple Sclerosis

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What is MS?

Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is an autoimmune disorder that affects a person’s brain and spinal cord. When a person has MS, the coating that helps to protect the nerves in their body, called myelin, is damaged. This essentially causes a person’s immune system to mistakenly attack the nervous system, which can cause a wide variety of symptoms. Some individuals are severely disabled because of the disorder, whereas some only experience mild problems.

Common Symptoms

  • Difficulty walking
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Muscle stiffness/spasms
  • Difficulty with balance/ coordination
  • Tremor
  • Speech problems
  • Bladder/bowel issues
  • Vision problems

Your Caring Role

Because one person’s experience with MS is often very different from the next, carers’ experiences are often very different as well. Some people who suffer from MS may need more help than others if their symptoms are more severe. As a carer, educating yourself and gaining a sound understanding of what MS is and how it is affecting your loved one’s life can be extremely beneficial. Having a solid understanding of what they are going through can make a big difference in your caring role and your relationship with the person that you care for.

One of the biggest issues that people with MS face involves a decline in mobility and movement. This can understandably be very difficult for the person you care for to handle and may cause them to feel less independent. If they are struggling to get around, consider placing handrails or other mobility aids around the home. This will allow for the person you care for to be more mobile. If they are unable to walk, installing stairlifts and adapting to using a wheelchair can help the person that you care for more independent. This also can help your role as a carer to be less stressful.

Sometimes those with MS have trouble controlling their bladder. When control is lost and accidents occur, it can be very embarrassing for the person that you care for. It is important to not get frustrated and understand that what happened is out of their control. In addition to bladder issues, difficulty with pain is also something that is often not as easily controlled in people who have MS. Sometimes people are able to identify unique triggers that bring pain on. As a carer, it is important to both understand what these triggers are and how to help your loved one manage them. Things like warm/cold compresses, loose clothing, and pressure stocking are things that some individuals have found to help their loved ones feel more comfortable when pain arises.

Being a carer is often a stressful experience for many, so it is important to also take time to remember to take care of yourself! Even if that only means reading a book or having coffee with a friend, it’s important to do something you enjoy each day. Caring for yourself can allow you to step away from your caring role and distress. This will allow you to come back to your caring responsibilities refreshed and ready to help your loved one! Click here to learn about quick and easy self-care that you can start practising at home today!

Need Support?

If you are caring for someone who has MS and think that you may need a little bit of extra support, we Suffolk Carers Matter would be happy to help! We offer free support, advice, and guidance and even have a free counselling service available should you need it!

CALL us at 01284 333035 – open Monday-Friday 8am-8pm and Saturday-Sunday 10am-2pm.

LIVE CHAT by clicking the blue ask button in the bottom corner of your screen

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EMAIL us via our contact form here and we will get back to you

If you are interested in reading other carer’s stories, finding MS carer support groups, or more general information about the disorder, visit the MS Society’s website by clicking here. If you need help caring for a loved one who has MS, click here to see if an MS nurse would be something that could benefit your situation.