MS is a family affair — once one person is diagnosed, every family member needs to find a way to live with it. This is a tall order indeed and won’t be accomplished quickly, but these tips for managing common family issues will help.
- Learning about the disease is the best place to start — call 1-800-344-4867 or visit nationalmssociety.org/Brochures for information geared to every member of the family.
- No matter how much you love one another, you can’t read each other’s minds. Good communication is essential. Set aside some time to talk together.
- Work on balancing roles and relationships. If MS interferes with one person’s activities and responsibilities in the family, try a trade. If vacuuming tires you too much, trade it for balancing the checkbook. The goal is for every member of the family to feel like a valued contributor.
- Hope for the best while planning for the worst. Planning early on for the unpredictability of MS helps families feel more prepared and less vulnerable if and when the disease progresses.
- Don’t give MS more energy, time, or attention than it really needs. Make time as a family to focus on things other than MS, such as a family movie night.
- Take advantage of resources in your community for recreation, spiritual help, household chores, transportation, friendships and more— no family needs to deal with MS alone.
Author: Rosalind Kalb, PhD, a clinical psychologist, is Vice President of the Society's Professional Resource Center.