MS Caregiver: Finding Ways To Help
When You Are A Caregiver
With Multiple Sclerosis
Being a caregiver by itself
can be a challenge, but being a MS caregiver,
or a caregiver, who has Multiple Sclerosis, presents so many more
challenges than it would otherwise.
An interesting phenomena is occurring around the world, as a larger
percentage of people in many more different countries around the world
are living longer lives and as the number of people entering later
stages of life is increasing as more of the "baby boomer" generation
approaches retirement age.
This often means that as more of the aging population develop health
conditions that require more assistance for performing every day tasks,
such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson, different forms of dementia or cancer,
more and more of the younger generations are finding themselves in more
of a care giver role.
The dilemma that can occur is that as more and more younger people are
diagnosed with more severe cases of diseases like Multiple Sclerosis,
the younger generations that are expected to be caregivers may find
that they themselves need more assistance too, which presents more of a
challenge just to find some way for all involved to make it through
Since Multiple Sclerosis tends to be diagnosed between the ages of
early twenties to early or mid-thirties, this means that the generation
that often becomes the care givers of their aging parents, may become
disabled enough themselves that they may also need some one to
help take care of them for daily assistance to perform daily tasks,
like cooking meals, taking a shower or bath, changing clothes or
The challenges that this type of situation can present is becoming more
of a common occurrence than it had just 10 to 20 years ago.
What can the caregiver do, that is also dealing with symptoms of
Multiple Sclerosis? Are there any helpful suggestions that
can give some insight into ways to reduce the problems that this can
present to those of us who are a MS
caregiver or a care giver with Multiple Sclerosis.
I, myself, understand this type of dilemma, since I have battled with a
severe case of Multiple Sclerosis for 13 years, and at the
same time I have had to be a caregiver to help with my father, who has
developed a form of dementia, that is gradually becoming worse over
time. My mother can't handle taking of both me and my father
at the same time.
But, as I have found alternative and natural ways that are helping me
to function better gradually over time, I have found that I am able to
do so much more to help my mother to care for my father with dementia.
It is not an easy task, but there a few things that I have found that
have been able to make my job as a caregiver so much easier.
Because I am a caregiver with Multiple Sclerosis, I understand the
challenges that this can present. My father has dementia that
is becoming worse over time. Somehow I have to find a way to
help my mother to take care of both me and my father, since I am
considered disabled because of Multiple Sclerosis.
Although I have found ways that are helping to reduce the effects of
Multiple Sclerosis on my body, I am still a full time caregiver and
that doesn't stop, even when I am not having a "good day" because of
the adverse effects of Multiple Sclerosis on my body.
But I do have a few suggestions of ways that I have found that help to
reduce the stress that I feel, reduce the MS fatigue and to help me to
function better so that I am able to help my parents much more than I
would be able to do otherwise.
My suggestions to make things easier for you, who is the MS caregiver or a caregiver with
Multiple Sclerosis, includes the following:
* Plan ahead as much as
This goes a long way in helping to reduce the fatigue that can
accompany many cases of Multiple Sclerosis. Rushing around at
the last minute doesn't help anybody. Rushing around is worse
for those of us with Multiple Sclerosis, so avoid it as much as you can.
* Break things
down into smaller tasks.
If you need to, rest between each smaller task that you find that you
need to do throughout the day. This is okay if you need to
take breaks between things. This helps to reduce the
exhaustion that often accompanies being a caregiver with MS.
* Take care of
yourself as much as possible each day to ease the stress on your body
and reduce potential MS attacks.
If you don't take care of yourself first, you can't help anyone else
either. You are only able to function if you do what you can
to get more rest, to eat right to help give you more energy, to
exercise when you can to help rebuild your stamina, and to de-stress
through meditation or or other methods that help to reduce the amount
that your nervous system has to deal with on a daily basis.
Taking vitamins, herbs and other supplements can also help
reduce vitamin deficiencies and can help to boost your immune system to
reduce how often you yourself get sick from infections of all kinds.
* Take a break from
being a caregiver when you can.
Find someone that can help be a
caregiver in your place for a few hours or for a day to give you a
break. If you can afford it, higher someone through a
temporary agency or a place that provides home health aids to help give
you a break periodically.
* Divide up your day -
all work and nothing else, creates a more stressful environment for
you, as a caregiver.
Mix up the things that you do during each day, so that you do something
during the day that you consider to be more fun or more enjoyable for
you. After all, you need to feel like you have worth and your
life has some meaning other than becoming a work horse only.
Schedule this if you
need to - since it is very important that you
take breaks from being a caregiver to prevent burn-out!
Find ways to
de-stress as much as possible.
This sounds like a no-brainer, but I have found, that from personal
experience, that this is much easier said than done.
Putting on music that you enjoy, while doing whatever else your daily
caregiver schedule seems to demand of you, taking time to take a few
deep breaths and relax, find ways to make things more of a labor of
love instead of a dreaded task, as well as whatever else you can think
of that might help reduce the internal stress that you may feel at
times can help tremendously in reducing the toll that the daily grind
can take on your system and help to reduce Multiple Sclerosis attacks,
relapses and exacerbations.
* Share the caregiver
role with brothers, sisters and other relatives as much as you
can. You can't do everything by yourself
Multiple Sclerosis can present major challenges on its own, but adding
the responsibility of being the MS
caregiver or caregiver with Multiple Sclerosis for your aging
parents or other relatives that also have declining health can add so
much more responsibility that may be more than you can handle on your
We do the best that we can to help our families, our friends and other
relatives as much as we can.
That is a good thing in itself for us to help as much as we can, since
it gives us more purpose to our lives too, but balancing all of our
responsibilities along with the physical challenges that can be present
with many cases of Multiple Sclerosis can reduce how well we function
or maybe even how much we can help others in our families that also
need our help.
Don't beat yourself up emotionally when you aren't functioning as well
some days because of the effects of the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis,
but rather remind yourself that you are a person too and you are
helping where ever you can.
Sometimes, that's the best we can do and we have to find ways to feel
good about what we can do, instead of beating ourselves up for what we
are sometimes not able to do.
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ways to help reduce your symptoms of
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