The unpredictable nature of MS
The symptoms of MS vary between individuals, and the day-to-day expression of the condition can likewise differ considerably. With unpredictable symptoms, it’s not always easy to anticipate how your loved one may feel, making planning a challenge. However, having routines wherever possible can help retain some structure, quality of life and make managing each day a little easier.
It’s essential to gain a deeper understanding of the lifelong condition that is MS and its symptoms. By increasing your knowledge of the condition, you will have more of an idea of what your loved one is experiencing.
Your loved one or family member may experience a wide range of emotions when living with a chronic illness such as multiple sclerosis, and it doesn’t always follow a linear pattern.
Your friend, partner or family member may find themselves grieving for the life they used to have. They may be in denial over their condition, experience anger and resentment, feel fearful and anxious, or a combination of the above.
Working towards acceptance of any chronic illness is not easy, and mental health can often be negatively impacted along the way, with mood swings and stress, anxiety and depression. It’s helpful to acknowledge and not underestimate the emotional challenges they may face alongside the physical ones.
Day-to-day mobility challenges
Fatigue, general muscle weakness, muscle stiffness and feeling off-balance can all make day-to-day activities and regular exercise challenging for your loved one. Thankfully, there are certain adaptations for home life that can help, such as bath seats, mobility aids, and grab rails.
For elderly loved ones, 24-hour care with a live-in care expert can make it possible for them to stay in the comfort of their own home, helping them to retain as much independence as possible.
Carers can assist with household chores and tasks to lighten the load, whether that’s shopping for groceries, vacuuming, arranging transport, ironing or cleaning. Some may require help with personal care, including washing and dressing. With home care, your loved one or relative will receive a little extra support to help overcome day-to-day challenges.
As MS symptoms develop, the bladder can become affected. Many may find differing degrees of bladder issues, from having an overactive bladder and experiencing incontinence to trouble urinating and feeling discomfort.
If continence becomes an issue, an MS health professional can provide advice and suggest medications and different tactics that can help alleviate some of the discomforts your loved one may be experiencing.
Chronic pain management
Life with a chronic condition often comes with chronic pain, and there are some specific forms it can take with MS. For example, trigeminal neuralgia (TN) affects the face and can be incredibly intense and painful.
Pain around the waist is referred to as the ‘MS hug’, which feels like numbness or burning and can be triggered by temperature changes or even a gentle touch.
There are also muscle cramps, spasms, twitches and other nerve pains that can affect those with MS. It can be helpful to determine whether there are any identifiable triggers. A doctor or MS nurse should be able to advise on medications for pain relief. Also, wearing loose, soft clothing may be more comfortable and hot and cold therapy in the form of wraps and ice packs can provide some relief.
Care for the carer
It can be physically and emotionally demanding to manage your own life while trying to support a loved one through their challenges with MS and provide them with a level of care. Looking after yourself is vital so that you can provide the best support possible.
Taking breaks and prioritising your self-care isn’t selfish, and it’s certainly not something that should make you feel guilty. Ensure that you’re eating a balanced diet and getting adequate rest. Elder can help you organise the deserved respite care that you may need.
When it comes to elderly care, dementia care or multiple sclerosis care, additional support is available through a professional, compassionate live-in carer. The carer will be able to provide compassionate care and the day-to-day support your loved one needs to maintain their independence and well-being, such as helping with social activities and other daily tasks. Live-in care can also take some of the pressure off you and give you the peace of mind that your loved one is well looked after with a suitable care plan.
Here at Elder, we ensure all carers are matched carefully to each individual requiring care, whether you want a care plan for a specialist condition or need a flexible approach to care – we will find the carer most suitable.
Dealing with MS doesn’t have to be a lonely experience. Carers can also provide companionship, emotional support, and practical help, ensuring that your loved one can still live comfortably in their home.
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