Multiple sclerosis (MS) occurs when the immune system attacks the fatty tissue that covers nerve fibres (called myelin), causing scars to form. These scars can interfere with messages being sent to the brain which causes symptoms such as vision problems and poor coordination. Caring for someone with MS can be challenging and draining.
Here are some tips to help you care for someone with MS:
- Educate yourself. The more you know about the disease, the more prepared you will feel and know what to expect in the future.
- Assess regularly. MS is a disease that has symptoms that can change. The person you’re caring for may initially require a lot of attention and care and then as their symptoms improve they may be able to become more independent. Pay attention to their needs and encourage independence whenever possible.
- Be prepared for unpredictability. It’s impossible to tell when symptoms will worsen so have a back up plan prepared in case your loved one starts to feel dizzy, weak, fatigued, etc. MS is a disease with a lot of ups and downs. Try and remember that even though this may feel like a low point, things will look up.
- Take care of you. Being a caregiver can be emotionally and physically draining. Joining a support group or seeking counseling can provide you with the opportunity to share your feelings and struggles. Be aware of caregiver burnout and ask for help if you need it. Respite care and caregiver relief programs are available to help you. VHA offers programs to help caregivers. Learn more about our services here: https://www.vha.ca/services/community-support-programs/