You can have a vibrant social life with MS, even though it may be harder to get out and about.
In fact, it’s good for you. “Staying active and engaging with others is essential to maintaining function and a positive outlook on life,” says Helen Genova, PhD, assistant director of the Center for Neuropsychology and Neuroscience Research at the Kessler Foundation.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease. Your immune system attacks your central nervous system and damages your nerve fibers. That makes it hard for your brain to "talk" with the rest of your body and causes symptoms like weakness, tingling or numbness in your limbs, trouble speaking, chronic pain, depression, and vision loss.
Several medications are used to treat MS. They can cause serious side effects, and over time, they can stop working for some people. But a new treatment involving...
Use these strategies for having an active, rewarding social life.
First, prioritize. You can’t do everything, so decide which activities are most important to you. Say yes to those, and skip the others.
Next, plan ahead.
Shore Up Your Energy
Get extra rest the day before a social event, suggests Brooke Slick, who’s 55, has MS, and lives in New Enterprise, PA. “It's all about energy allotment,” she says. “I make sure I've had plenty of rest so I don't start getting tired and sloppy by day's end.”
Jennifer TenEyck, from Delaware, OH, uses a similar strategy. “I press reset the day before. I also take my shower the night before so I have all of my energy to devote to the activity,” she says.
To limit fatigue, says Barbara Giesser, MD, a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, plan activities when your energy levels are highest. Go out for small chunks of time. Use assistive devices to save energy. Stay cool and hydrated. Medication and regular exercise may also help.
Boost Your Mobility
When you go out, use a walker, wheelchair, or scooter. Mobility aids help you get where you want to go, save energy, and prevent falls.
Car adaptations that help you drive can make it easier to get out and about. A service dog can help by guiding you safely and supporting your balance.
Know before you go, says Slick. Visit the website of the place you’re going. Find out where it is, if there’s nearby parking, and if there’s an elevator or stairs.
Plan ahead for heat sensitivity. “How you dress matters,” says Jacqueline Nicholas, MD, a neuroimmunologist at the OhioHealth Neuroscience Center in Columbus. Wear layers so you can peel them off when you’re warm and put them on when you’re cold.