3 Ways to Support a Loved One With Multiple Sclerosis
My mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the early 2000s. Since then, it has been a roller coaster ride of doctor’s appointments, trying out new treatments, and learning how to manage symptoms. As a loved one of someone with MS, I have found that there is a lot to learn and a lot of emotions to work through as you learn how to be a support for your loved one. Coping has gotten easier with time, but the unpredictable nature of multiple sclerosis is still incredibly difficult to manage. However, being open with one another and becoming a team while battling multiple sclerosis is key. Supporting each other and being honest about how you are feeling will help you to create a strong bond and ensure that you both have the ability to manage the ups and downs of multiple sclerosis.
1. Multiple sclerosis is unpredictable, so take things one moment and one day at a time.
One of the main things I have learned as a loved one of someone with multiple sclerosis is that you have to brace yourself for the unpredictability of the illness. I never know how my mom is going to be feeling from day to day, and I have found that it is important to take things one moment at a time and be patient. In the early days of my mother’s diagnosis, we attended a lot of different conferences and meetings that helped us to better understand multiple sclerosis and its progression, which helped me a lot in learning how to be a support for my mom. Education is important, and the more you can educate yourself on the illness itself, the more you will be able to be a support and help your loved one in the best way that you possibly can.
2. Find a support group for your loved one with multiple sclerosis — and yourself.
Support groups are also important. There are various free support groups for loved ones of those living with MS, and this space can be a place for you to express your concerns, ask questions, and find support for yourself so that you can be a better support for your loved one. It is important to understand that you and your loved one are a team, and as you care for them, you must also care for yourself. If you don’t practice your own self-care you are susceptible to burnout, which can be detrimental for the both of you.
3. Offer to accompany your loved one with MS to medical appointments and assist with their treatments.
In the early days, my mother learned a lot about the different treatment options for MS and tried out many different medications until she found the one that best works for her. Her medication comes in the form of injections and she has since learned how to administer the injections herself, but when first trying out a new treatment and its form of administration, support is vital. You can help your loved one by attending doctor’s appointments with them to learn about their new medication and help them learn how to administer the medication. Or, if they receive a medication that is given to them in a clinical setting, going with them to get their medication is important. It is also important that you learn more about their medication yourself, especially side effects, so that you both can be on the lookout for any complications.
When supporting a loved one with multiple sclerosis, learning how to support them and manage their symptoms from day to day is important; however, it is also important to remember to practice your own self-care. Look up support groups in your area for loved ones of those who have MS and begin to build your community. The more support both of you have, the more you will be able to manage this complex and serious illness. Learning how to ensure that both of you are coping is important, and the more you work together, the more you will be able to battle multiple sclerosis.
Join Multiple Sclerosis Connections on The Mighty to get support from people who understand.
Getty image by Ridofranz.