Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a lifelong disease that can get worse over time. As your symptoms grow more severe, you may need a hand to manage your condition. Here is how and when to get help.
Support From Family and Friends
It can make a huge difference in daily life to have your loved ones join your support team. And they can help in many ways. For instance, they may be able to handle such household chores as:
- Grocery shopping and errands
- Rearranging furniture, installing grab bars, and making other changes to make your house safer and easier to use
- Driving to doctor’s appointments
- Reminding you to take your medications
- Paying bills
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has online tools and resources for advanced MS care needs.
As your MS progresses, you may reach a point where you need help from beyond your family and friends. You may want to decide together what support you need, such as from a nurse aide or a housekeeper. Services may cover your medical, psychological, personal care, or companionship needs.
A few signs may be a tipoff that it’s time to start looking for in-home options. They include if you have trouble with basic self-care tasks such as:
- Eating and swallowing
- Bathing or showering
- Dressing or grooming
- Walking or sitting
- Using the toilet
Another reason to hire home help is if your needs are greater than what your loved ones can handle. Taking on too much may overwhelm them and affect their health and their relationship with you.
You can arrange for home care for a short while or permanently. You can find lists of private and public providers for nurse aides and social services on the websites of hospitals, nonprofit groups, and government agencies. The best way to find quality help is word-of-mouth referral. So ask your doctor, friends, and others for recommendations.
Services for Healthy Living
Many free or paid services can help make daily life with MS easier.
Food deliveries and dietary advice. Consider ordering groceries online. You can have them delivered, or arrange to pick up at your supermarket. Meal kits, which usually require a subscription, can streamline shopping and cooking. In some areas of the country, low-income seniors can qualify for Meals on Wheels, which deliver ready-to eat dishes to your home. You may also be eligible for other nonprofit groups that provide MS-friendly meal services through the Food Is Medicine Coalition.
Exercise . You can work out with free online classes and videos tailored for people with MS. One such class is FitMS, a free group exercise that is livestreamed weekly by the Neurobalance Center. This fully seated routine includes yoga, Pilates, and other movements. It’s safe for everyone with advanced MS, including if you use a wheelchair.
Transportation. The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation has a program that provides free Uber and Lyft rides to medical appointments for people with MS and their caregivers.
MS can be hard on your mental and emotional health. A little bit of moral support helps you better manage life with your condition. Two main sources of help are through support groups and counseling.
Reach out and connect with other people living with MS. They likely will understand what you’re going through better than just about anybody. Support groups also can be a good source of information about new treatments, seminars, and other activities. Many groups meet online or in person. Your doctor, local hospital, community health centers, and advocacy organizations can help you link up with a support group that best fits your needs.
You and your loved ones might also benefit from working with a social worker or a mental health counselor or a therapist. Your insurance plan might cover these services.
If you’re not sure what kind of support, service, or resource you may need, or how to find it, answers may be just a phone call away.
For instance, the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America operates a toll-free helpline to talk to someone with a background in counseling or social services. You can call (800) 532-7667 or chat live online.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society also has web page called “Ask an MS Navigator” where you can ask a trained staff member for help with anything MS-related.