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For more than 400,000 people in the United States alone, living with multiple sclerosis (MS) is a daily reality. Meanwhile, caregivers for those with MS, who usually are close family members, face their own unique challenges. Regardless, these challenges have been faced successfully by many happy families. If you are a primary caregiver for a family member with MS, here are some keys to excellent care.
Multiple sclerosis is very a unique condition. Though most patients fall into one category, there are, in fact, four different types of MS, each one with its own distinct disease course. Therefore, it’s vital that caregivers educate themselves on the specific type of MS that they will be handling. Learning as much as possible will help you know what to expect and how to provide better care.
Though only a small percentage of the population has been diagnosed with MS, there are certainly other members of your community who are in a similar situation. As such, support groups will allow you to connect with like-minded people who can share their knowledge, support, and experience.
Unlike some other neurological disorders, MS does not usually affect the patient’s mental function. Therefore, it’s important to allow them to maintain their independence and have their say in matters. Though our concern for sick loved ones can sometimes make us want to take care of every detail, this is rarely a healthy dynamic. In contrast, maintaining open, respectful communication will help both you and your loved one avoid frustration.
The silver lining of MS care is that most patients experience periods where their symptoms subside. Though old habits die hard, you should take advantage of these periods to enjoy some well-deserved rest. Rather than continuing to hover over their shoulder and caring for their every need, give your loved one some extra space. You deserve the rest, and they will appreciate their independence.
Even though multiple sclerosis may not directly affect your loved one’s mental state, living with it can subject both patients and their families to immense emotional strain. Failure to acknowledge this frustration is certain to make things worse. Don’t think that expressing your emotions will drive a wedge between you and your loved one. On the contrary, facing your frustrations together can make your bond stronger than ever.
Being a full-time caregiver is likely a task that you never expected to take on. In reality, no one is equipped to carry such a load alone. Before you reach your personal limits, reach out to trusted friends and family who can provide relief.
At Fedelta Home Care, we have over two decades of experience helping families like yours cope with complex health care needs. Our home care professionals have the expertise needed to help your loved ones thrive in difficult circumstances. If you are looking for relief or guidance in caring for a family member with a severe illness, contact us today to learn about our services.