Six Ways To Take Care of Your MS When Loved Ones Are Sick
There comes a time in everyone’s life when they face the difficult task of watching a loved one suffer with illness. They see it spin its ugly web that sometimes becomes unbearable to watch. When time, money and science can no longer offer a cure feelings of sadness and a longing for yesterday overwhelms us.
I think we, the MS community, have learned hard lessons from this unpredictable illness of ours. It’s taught us strength, resiliency, hope, and courage. We wish we never had the opportunity to learn these lessons but life doesn’t always obey our wishes.
Staying healthy while caring for others
We can almost step in someone’s shoes when they’re facing serious illness because we’ve traveled those miles ourselves. We can almost step in their shoes, but as we know, not quite.
We’ve become used to being the patient, the one looked after by doctors, nurses, and loved ones. When the shoe is on the other foot it feels strange and uncomfortable.
The question becomes how to remain as healthy as possible when someone you love is sick. It’s a subject we need to think and talk about, especially as we get older. Self-care becomes more important than ever. We want to do what we can to help our loved ones but we need to also care for ourselves.
How can we do that?
- Prioritize - Make a list of what you want to do vs. what you need to do. If a loved one needs help you must decide how much you can do to be there for them. Keep your MS in mind and be realistic about both of your needs. They are all important, but you’re no good to others if you’re not taking care of yourself.
- Self-care - Take naps whenever possible, even if it’s a cat nap. Tell others you need to rest and don’t want to be disturbed unless absolutely necessary. Put your feet up in a hospital room or at home. Close your eyes and meditate on a word or visualize something that makes you happy.
- Communication - Don’t be afraid to speak up when it comes to your needs. Don’t allow others to make you feel guilty if you’re unable to help. Educate them about MS and how it affects you. If they still don’t understand direct them to websites, like MultipleSclerosis.net, where they’ll learn more about MS.
- Ask for help - There’s no shame in reaching out for help. If you are feeling anxious, depressed, angry, or frustrated talk to someone you trust and discuss how you feel. Handling someone else's illness while living with MS is not easy. It can be physically and emotionally exhausting. If talking with family or friends isn’t possible, or isn’t helping, speak to a professional counselor or spiritual advisor. Don’t keep your negative emotions bottled up. Be good to yourself by seeking the help you need. If applicable seek the help of a grief counselor or a grief support group.
- Take a break - It’s important to step back from a stressful situation, if only for a short time. Spend quality time with your family, friends or pets. Step outdoors and feel the sun on your face. Sit in a park and watch the birds and be mindful of their sounds. Read a good book. Watch an old movie. Start a gratitude journal. Write about your feelings and don’t hold back. Take a yoga class. Go for a walk. Meditate. Call a friend. Think of this as a wellness break.
- Remember - Continue taking your prescribed medications as usual. It’s important to keep on top of this. If you need help there are many reminder apps that are available such as Mango Health or MyMeds Medication Reminder.
Do you live with any comorbidities aside from MS?