Questions and Answers about Multiple Sclerosis and Family Part 2

Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic disease that can eventually cause mobility problems in some and severe disability in others. It is very difficult to tell h…

Living with Multiple Sclerosis involves a myriad of issues that will affect your family. These include:

  • financial

  • social

  • emotional

  • physical

  • employment

  • housing

How you deal with them is unique to your situation, just as your MS is different from everyone else’s. You need to think about each issue and make decisions along with your loved ones as to what is best for you and your family.

Keywords: multiple sclerosis, ms, financial issues, social issues, emotional, physical issues, family,

Financial Issues

Raising a family as we all know, is hard enough nowadays as a healthy person. When you or a family member has MS, everyday can be a challenge. Family finances can be strained to the limit when health care costs come into the picture. And if you have always been the sole income earner or even the second income:

  • What do you do if you can no longer work?

  • Have you looked into working at home as an option?

  • Have you thought about another retraining for another career that is less stressful or physical?

Again, preparation is the key. Expect the best, but prepare for the worst. Make sure your finances are in order. Begin now to make plans for the future. Even if you never become disabled, being prepared is still a good thing. It definitely can’t hurt.

Emotional and Physical Issues

Managing the stress of daily living as well as your symptoms can sometimes be difficult on your own. The emotional and physical issues associated with MS may eventually require the help of professionals. It’s not a sign of weakness to know when you may need a little help. Making the ultimate decision to turn to a professional is best made with the help of your family and your doctor.

To deal with physical issues, your doctor may suggest a physical or occupational therapist, or both depending on your needs. Emotional issues may range from cognitive problems to severe depression. Cognitive impairment may be helped by daily planning, learning memory tricks and organizing. The treatment for severe depression may be medication and or professional help. There is help available, so you don’t need to suffer needlessly.

Employment Issues

  • If you have gotten to the point where you feel you can no longer work, then what happens next?

  • Does your job know that you have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis?

  • If so, have they made every reasonable accommodation to help you keep working if you want to? The Americans with Disabilities Act has put several laws in place to deal with these issues. Learn about your rights and what is available to you.

  • If you have health insurance, is there a disability clause?

  • Will it be enough to cover your health needs and expenses if and when you decide to stop working?

These types of questions should ideally be asked before you let your employer know and if possible even before you receive your MS diagnosis. That way if you need to make changes to your insurance you can do so before you become disabled and are no longer able to work.

If you have made the decision to stop working, and know that you won’t have insurance, the question of Social Security Disability Insurance is an inevitability. Applying for it and getting approved can be a daunting task. It doesn’t have to be. Doing your homework before you leave work, will make working through this task a whole lot easier.

Find out everything, and I mean everything, that will be required and follow it to the letter. Answer every question on the application truthfully and thoroughly. Follow-up with your doctor to make sure they have submitted everything they need to submit. If you are not approved the first time, try again. And above all, don’t give up. You will succeed.

Social Issues

Depression and loneliness can become a big problem if you have limited mobility and no longer feel like going out. Many people with MS, have led active lives and while some can continue to do so, others just can’t. There are several ways to get around this issue.

  • First of all, are there support groups in your area?
  • Have you joined your local National MS Society?
  • For those of you who have stopped working, what do you do with your time?

They are a great source of information and support for events happening in your area. If you have a computer and internet service, get on-line. There are many support groups and several chat rooms where people with MS get together regularly.

If you are still mobile, (and about 75% of people with MS will never need a wheelchair), consider doing yoga or some other exercise to stay healthy. The MS clinic in our area offers a water exercise class, yoga, and a Tai Chi class as well. All of these are geared toward multiple sclerosis patients and people with limited mobility. So whether you can walk or even if you can’t, there are ways to be involved in these types of classes. You can learn something new and meet new people in the process.

Housing Issues

Accessible housing may be something that you may never need to worry about. But our little mantra comes into play in this area, too. Expect the best, but prepare for the worst. It won’t do for you to have a dream house planned for your retirement that has multi-level living. If you become disabled to the point where you can no longer navigate the stairs, what will happen then?

Plan your dream home for this eventuality and include things like wheelchair ramps, accessible bathrooms with grab bars and kitchens with easy to reach counters and cabinets. Wide open spaces, hardwood floors, tiles, or Berber carpeting, are just a few of the other things you may want to consider when planning your home. Condominiums may also be a good choice so that yard work won’t be an issue.

As you can see, living with MS brings up a myriad of challenges that you as a person with multiple sclerosis will inevitably deal with from day to day. But living with MS is not impossible to do. Watching my husband live with this disease has taught me a lot of things. One thing stands out. It may not always be easy, but people with MS have the strength and determination to live fulfilling lives in spite of having multiple sclerosis.