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Learning to Live Life Fully While Coping with MS

by Shannon, February 11, 2019

 

A diagnosis of multiple sclerosis can be challenging. As you are learning more about how the disease will affect your body, your emotions and your lifestyle, you may also be concerned with how to cope and live life to its fullest with MS.

It is no secret that MS is a lifelong illness and you may experience symptoms that range from coordination difficulties, fatigue, movement challenges and cognitive changes. [Link to MS Article 1] However, with support from your family, friends and the professionals at Care Indeed, you can navigate this disease to maintain a quality of life.

At Care Indeed, we specialize in providing live-in and hourly care for individuals and elderly clients needing companionship and support. Our mission is also to educate our client base and community on how certain ailments and diseases can affect the mind and body.

This continuation of the series on Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is designed to help you – or a loved one – navigate the disease with grace and give you the resources you need to find the care you need and deserve.

 

Maintaining Overall Wellness 

Wellness is often associated with maintaining optimal physical health, but when coping with MS, your emotional health matters, too.

In fact, the National MS Society asserts that wellness is a “dynamic state of physical, emotional, spiritual and social well-being that can be achieved even in the presence of a chronic illness or disability.”  Even while coping with MS, you deserve to live life to its fullest and enjoy happiness.

The first step to wellness is to learn how to treat your body and mind well. Strategies to promote health include, but are not limited to:

  • Creating a healthy diet
  • Making time for exercise
  • Allocating time for MS treatments
  • Creating strong support groups
  • Finding strategies to cope with stress, anxiety or depression
  • Investing in personal relationships

Even with an MS diagnosis, you can continue to participate in recreational activities, maintain a fruitful career and develop your inner self.

 

Catering to Your Physical Health

While MS is a chronic disease, there are steps you can take to enhance your physical health on a daily basis. When working with your physician or specialist, inquire first about how your diet can impact your physical health and multiple sclerosis symptoms.

Your daily diet impacts the following:

  • Bowel functions
  • Bladder functions
  • Energy level
  • Fatigue
  • Mental changes or mood swings

The National MS Society suggests that some studies have found that a specialized diet has been proposed as treatment for the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. For example, there is some evidence that when you supplement your diet with Omega-3 and Omega-6, it can help to minimize some of the stronger symptoms of MS.

Foods rich in Omega-3, such as fatty fishes, cod liver oil or flaxseed oil can offer benefits, as well as foods rich in Omega-6, such as fatty acids from sunflower or safflower seed oil. In addition, Multiple Sclerosis News Today recommends a low-fat, high-fiber diet for patients with MS. When changing your diet, though, you should first consult with your physician. 

Because multiple sclerosis is a condition that affects your central nervous system, some patients struggle with symptoms of tingling sensations, movement and coordination challenges and bowel and bladder dysfunction. Exercise can help to minimize some of these symptoms. Any type of exercise program should be approved by your physician and cater to your individual capabilities. However, you can incorporate exercise into your daily routine by:

  • Cooking
  • Gardening
  • Cleaning
  • Completing household tasks

In addition, simple exercises can help you to relax and increase your energy level. Consider engaging in the following activities recommended by the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) if you are feeling up to it:

  • Yoga
  • Swimming or water exercises
  • Wall squats
  • Planks for core strengthening
  • Multi-muscle conditioning
  • Overhead presses
  • Marching/Walking in place
  • Lunges

All exercise routines can be modified to accommodate your physical health level or abilities that often change daily when coping with MS.

 

Evaluating Your Lifestyle Habits

When coping with MS, you not only need to make your physical health a top priority, but it is also necessary to evaluate lifestyle habits that could be negatively impacting or worsening your symptoms. For example, smoking and alcohol consumption can cause several health problems, and they can also worsen MS symptoms.

If you are a smoker, seek out resources from the National Institutes of Health or SmokeFree.gov to help you taper off the habit and ultimately quit. 

Alcohol consumption is another lifestyle habit that can impede your ability to cope with MS. According to Multiple Sclerosis News Today, alcohol consumption significantly affects your central nervous system – as does MS. As a result, you may see enhanced symptoms or even experience:

  • Loss of balance
  • Slurred speech
  • Impaired judgment and thinking
  • Negative interactions with medication and antidepressants

If you consume alcohol on a regular basis, it is essential that you discuss its effects with your physician and take measures to taper off drinking or quitting altogether.

 

Safeguarding Your Emotional Health

Research confirms that MS can significantly affect your emotional health. From a scientific standpoint, the disease affects parts of your brain that control your anxiety level and mood. However, you may also experience emotional challenges when maintaining personal and professional relationships or while trying to navigate daily activities.

As MS progresses, you may also find yourself experiencing common emotions, especially while trying to accept the physical struggles you are – or will have to – endure.

Common emotions for people with MS may include:

  • Grief
  • Worry
  • Fear
  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Moodiness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

The first step in maintaining your emotional health is recognizing and validating your emotions. Seek out help from professionals, your physicians, family and friends. Discuss your condition often with your support group to help maintain personal and professional relationships. Although your family and friends may not always understand your emotions, the more they understand how the disease affects your emotions, the better support they will be able to provide.

 

How Can I Find the Support I Need? 

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with one of the four types of MS, you need resources, support and compassion to navigate the disease. Care Indeed professionals are here for you.

Support and care are essential as you cope with a multiple sclerosis diagnosis. Care Indeed professionals are highly trained to assist with mobility, hygiene, transportation and companionship regardless of your condition or disease. We offer local resources for our clients and their families to help you understand the level of care you need. In addition, our professional caregivers are available to help you with daily tasks to ease the transition when MS progresses.

Life with any type of multiple sclerosis is challenging and learning how to accept the challenge is the first step in improving your overall quality of life. While you may struggle with the changes as a patient, caregiver or family member, the support you need is only a click away.

Care Indeed is committed to providing you the support and in-home caregivers who understand your challenges and daily struggles at work and home. Learn more about how to get the support you need while living with Multiple Sclerosis today