6 Tips for MS Patients, Their Families and Loved Ones

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1. With or Without MS, Relationships are Not Easy

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All relationships require energy and effort, go through up and downs, and have to face challenges even when there is no disease affecting the family.  But it is almost inevitable that multiple sclerosis (MS) is an additional challenge in a family’s life. A diagnosis of multiple sclerosis does not just affect the patient but the whole family and recognizing it is the first step to coping with MS in personal interactions. “While MS does pose some additional adversities, it can also enrich relationships and bring people closer together,” state the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. It is also important not to try and compare families and relationships, or think how it would be without the disease. Each family has its own problems and difficulties.

But can emotional health influence MS treatment outcomes?

2. Think Before Disclosing About MS

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Deciding who to tell about the multiple sclerosis diagnosis is also something to consider. This is a very personal decision. Some people may want to tell all their family, while others may prefer to tell just their partner and not the rest of family, or in some cases, not telling anyone at all. “Telling others about your MS may be the first thing you want to do — or the last. No two people feel exactly the same about disclosing their MS to others. Keeping in mind that once the information is out there, you can’t take it back, the key is figuring out when disclosure is in your best interest and when it is not.” Patients should also think about what their family members need to understand about the disease once they disclose the diagnosis.

One of the teams that participated in the 10th anniversary of the MS Melbourne Cycle, an annual biking challenge to raise money for MS Australia, built a bicycle that as closely as possible replicates the physical difficulties and discomforts that typify multiple sclerosis (MS).

3. Keep the Relationship Balanced

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While MS affects the whole family, in the case of partners MS is experienced by both. In a relationship, it’s normal for the partner of an MS patient to care and worry about the other. However, the society also recommends everyone tries to keep their relationships healthy and balanced. In order to do so, it’s important that both partners give and receive in the relationship, regardless of the alterations that MS brings to the family. It is also important to preserve communication and intimacy.

4. MS Patients Can Be Parents Too

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Patients with multiple sclerosis are often concerned about the future, including the demands of having children. This can bring additional stress and even sadness to the relationship. However, “women and men with MS can be successful parents of happy, healthy children,” state the National MS Society. The best option is to seek a physician and discuss an eventual pregnancy. The organization also offers resources for patients to learn more about conception, pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding, and the impact of childbearing on MS, as well as about parenting and discussing the disease with children.

According to a study, fatigue – the most commonly reported symptom in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) – is associated with disease comorbidities such as depression, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine, and anxiety.

5. Clear Any Negativity Associated with Caring

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In a great number of cases, the caregivers of patients with multiple sclerosis are family members. In some cases, patients may feel guilty or sad for the situation. However, there is no reason for associating caring for a loved one with anything negative. Caring for a loved one who suffers from a chronic disease like MS can also be satisfying. It may draw people more closely together and it can be an opportunity for family members to share concerns and efforts. This doesn’t mean that caring isn’t difficult. Being a care giver can be physically and emotionally exhausting, but it’s important to avoid any negativity from caring and seek help when needed.

6. Isolation is Always Harmful

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Multiple sclerosis is a rare disease, but there are 400,000 patients in the United States alone and many others willing to support and help. There is no reason for patients to be isolated, which can lead to sadness and depression. In addition to the support of family, there are support groups for MS patients and family members. In these groups, people can share their thoughts and feelings and ease the burden on their family. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society also offers Tips for People with MS and Their Partners – Planning for the Future Telelearning Recording.

But can emotional health influence MS treatment outcomes?

Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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