Caring for a loved one with multiple sclerosis (MS) can be exhausting, resulting in crankiness, sleepless nights, and excessive sadness, but many resources are available to help deal with the daily challenges of caregiving, said social worker, therapist, and wellness educator Lara Krawchuk.
“Care partner fatigue is a normal and expectable thing when an illness is chronic,” she said. “It does not mean the care partner is bad or failing. It may mean they need a break or are struggling physically or emotionally. It may mean there is not enough help from outside coming in.”
Outside help can range from national organizations and therapists, to neighbors and even a couple’s own children.
Krawchuk led an online Q&A forum on March 25 about the needs of care partners as part of a series sponsored by the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) to mark Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month.
The third webinar was about caregiver needs — “The Partnership of Care: Redefining Caregiver to Care Partner” — and was led by MS specialist and nurse practitioner Megan Weigel.
Other symptoms of caregiver fatigue include emotional volatility, snapping at the person with MS or others, being in pain, getting sick often, and eating too much or not enough. Care partners with these symptoms should ask for help and give themselves permission to prioritize their own needs, Krawchuk said. They should seek assistance from a variety of people, and assign each helper specific jobs suited to their abilities.
Taking a break
To avoid getting to the point where they feel overwhelmed, care partners must learn to take breaks, Krawchuk advised.
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