Battling fatigue, pain, vision loss and impaired coordination, all of which come with a multiple sclerosis diagnosis, is not easy.
Not easy on the person with MS, and not easy on the caregiver.
In the video below, Myron Just explains how caregiving for someone with MS is a 24-7 job. Myron was the caregiver to his wife.
When approached through a team effort, lending care to someone with MS can be less demanding. Here are some suggestions for you, the caregiver.
1. Tap into the network already available to you
Your team is already in your corner. Mobilize them!
Family and friends often will be glad to pitch in if given specific duties. They may want to help but just don’t know where or how you need them the most.
Suggest an afternoon when they can come spend time with their friend while you, the primary caregiver, goes to the store to buy groceries, for example. Or perhaps someone wouldn’t mind taking the person with MS to a doctor’s appointment.
You might be surprised what people are willing to do if you just ask.
2. Take time for your faith
Make time for God. Activities like regularly attending church are valuable. A church congregation also can be an important part of your team. They may be interested in knowing how things are going and be willing to help out.
Asking for a prayer can be uplifting. Talking, laughing and having coffee with church friends are great stress relievers. You will feel less isolated by keeping up with normal activities.
3. Rely on your medical team for answers
It’s OK to not have all the answers. Normal tasks like bathing, dressing or moving another person can become daunting.
When a routine task becomes difficult, reach out to your physician, PA, nurse or other provider. They may have suggestions of how to make duties easier.
It is easy to forget to take care of yourself. Eating well, exercising and getting a good night’s sleep can sometimes go by the wayside when you are just thinking of providing care for someone else. Don’t let that happen.
Take the opportunity for a break when you see one coming. An opportunity for a break can come at a moment’s notice. Be ready to squeeze in a quick walk around the block when the chance arises.
Utilizing the team concept, find a relief caregiver. Is there a friend or family member who wouldn’t mind stepping in to provide caregiver duties? Most likely there is. Ask around.
Also, don't be afraid to say no. If your duties become overwhelming it is alright to say no and reach out for help.
5. When providing care at home becomes impossible
At some point you may find yourself in a situation that you can no longer handle. If that happens, there is help available. The Good Samaritan Society has home health care options that can help when the time is right.
Watch below as Myron explains his experience.
Are you struggling as a caregiver?
You are not alone.
Learn as much as you can
The MS society recommends these books and websites:
Multiple Sclerosis: A Guide for Families, Rosalind C. Kalb, PhD, ed. Demos Health, (3rd Ed.), 2006. 256 pp.
The Comfort of Home: An Illustrated Step-by-Step Guide for Caregivers, by Maria M. Meyer with Paula Derr, RN. CareTrust Publications, (3rd Ed.), 2006. 326 pp. www.comfortofhome.com