Sometimes the symptoms of MS make it difficult—or even impossible—for people to carry out their daily activities. Maybe the fatigue is overwhelming, or weakness or balance problems make getting around too difficult or too dangerous. Perhaps visual changes or problems with memory or thinking get in the way, or bladder or bowel symptoms make leaving the house feel a bit too risky. Faced with these kinds of challenges, people have a big choice to make—whether to give up one or another of the activities that make life full and interesting, or figure out ways to do things differently.
This section is about finding ways to keep doing the things that are important to you—by working with your health care team to manage your symptoms, using tools and technology to make life easier, and manipulating your environment to maximize your mobility, safety, and independence.
When MS interferes with activities that are important to you, the first place to start is with your doctor. The neurologist can sort out what is related to MS and what is not, prescribe medications to relieve your symptoms, and refer you to other health care professionals (.pdf) for help with specific problems—including an MS nurse, rehabilitation specialists (physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech/language pathologist), and mental health professionals (psychotherapist, neuropsychologist, counselor, and social worker).
Together, you can work to make sure that your symptoms interfere as little as possible with your daily activities.
Tools make life easier—and the more tools you have in your personal “tool chest,” the better equipped you will be to keep doing the things that are important to you. The world of assistive technology (AT) includes every tool you can imagine—from simple gadgets for home and office, to fancy electronic gizmos and complex computer systems, to mobility aids and accessible vans. Each one of these tools helps to ensure that if you can’t get something done one way, you can do it another. The key to the world of assistive technology is deciding that it is okay to do things differently than you did them before.
Don’t let your environment interfere with your mobility, safety, and productivity. Even fairly simple changes to you home and work space can help you conserve energy, be more efficient in your daily tasks, and avoid dangerous falls. Learn about the benefits of universal design and get some helpful tips for getting rid of clutter. Adapting the environment to meet your needs is an important step toward maximizing function and independence.
Affordable Accessible Housing
When it comes to living well with MS, accessible affordable housing can be critical to maintaining independence and remaining engaged in the community. Whether seeking to renegotiate a mortgage, arrange home modifications, apply for rental vouchers, or explore affordable assisted living; navigating the maze of agencies and funding sources supporting these alternatives and services can be daunting. The Society’s Affordable Accessible Housing: A Guide for People with MS (.pdf) helps evaluate housing needs and better understand the range of housing options available to people living with MS.