When it comes to caring for a person with multiple sclerosis (MS), experts say families should expect the unexpected. The disease is unpredictable, and the care recipient’s needs can fluctuate on a daily basis. This can take an emotional, mental, and physical toll on a multiple sclerosis caregiver.
If someone you love has been diagnosed with MS, this information can help you learn what to expect and how to plan for the road ahead.
Caregiver for Multiple Sclerosis
1. Learn more about the disease.
This is a good starting point for family caregivers in general. Learning more about a loved one’s disease and what to expect as it progresses will help you prepare physically and emotionally. Knowledge is Power is a guide for people living with MS and their caregivers. Created by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, it covers topics ranging from financial security to working with your doctor to maintain intimate relationships.
2. Conduct a home safety assessment.
Making it possible for a loved one with MS to remain independent is important for their self-esteem and a caregiver’s physical well-being. As the disease advances, home modifications may be necessary. Having a home safety assessment completed can allow you to plan for current needs and future ones.
Talk with your primary care physician about obtaining a referral to an occupational or physical therapist. These professionals can come to the home and evaluate the environment. They will be able to identify and address current challenges, as well as make recommendations for the future.
3. Explore local senior care providers.
No caregiver can do it all on their own. That’s something caregivers often have difficulty accepting. Because the first signs of multiple sclerosis can appear in a person as young as 20, individuals living with the disease and their family caregivers have likely been managing the challenges of MS for years. As the disease progresses or the person with MS ages, finding and accepting support becomes increasingly important for the long-term well-being of everyone.
Exploring senior care options in your local community before you need them will allow you to create a care plan for the future, as well as provide a back-up caregiver plan. Utilizing an adult day center may allow a spouse to continue working, and some even offer transportation services.
Some home care agencies, including Griswold, specialize in neuromuscular diseases like multiple sclerosis. Building a relationship with a home care agency early in the disease process can give you peace of mind as well as physical support.
4. Join a multiple sclerosis caregiver support group.
The mental, physical, and emotional burden multiple sclerosis caregivers face can feel overwhelming. Finding healthy ways to cope is crucial. In addition to exercising and getting a good night’s sleep, consider joining a caregiver support group for multiple sclerosis.
Interacting with peers either in-person or online can help an MS caregiver find support in a nonjudgmental environment. This will help in processing difficult emotions, such as anger, resentment, guilt, and fear. You can search the MS Navigator by zip code to find a support group near you or to connect with an online MS caregiver forum.
Call Griswold Home Care at 1-800-474-7965 to learn why our experienced team members should be a part of your family’s multiple sclerosis care plan.