Multiple Sclerosis: Challenges and Changes
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease of the central nervous system that will likely bring challenges and changes to your life and that of your family. In MS, the immune system mistakes myelin (the coating around nerve fibers) for a foreign body and attacks it, stripping it from the fibers and leaving scars (lesions). The result is impaired communication between the brain and body, which causes cognitive and physical impairments, some temporary, some permanent.
MS is the single most prevalent disease in young adults. Approximately 400,000 people in the U.S. have multiple sclerosis, and there are 2.5 million people with the condition worldwide.
Adapting to a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis can be challenging – for individuals as well as families and caregivers. You may have questions about the disease, what happens next, and the future. The MyHealios program can help by providing valuable, disease-specific education and caregiver skills training to make living with multiple sclerosis easier for patients and families.
Challenges and Changes for Patients
Multiple sclerosis is a whole-person disease: it can affects the brain and the body.
Common physical changes from MS can include but are not limited to:
- Mobility impairments that impact walking, standing, and grasping.
- Visual impairments that make it more difficult to read, walk, and drive.
- Chronic fatigue that severely limits the range of a person’s activities.
- Other impairments in bodily systems that can limit a person’s independence.
Just as severe, but less visible, are cognitive changes from MS such as:
- Reduced short-term memory that makes it harder to focus and concentrate.
- Challenges in taking in, memorizing, and acting upon new information.
- Slowed processing speed that makes it harder to keep up in a fast-paced world.
- Communication difficulties like slurring and difficulty finding the right words.
Challenges and Changes for Families
Not only is MS a disease that affects the whole person, but it affects every person in the family. Because it can impact a person’s cognitive skills, it may knock that person out of their normal routines of housekeeping, working, and caring for children or elderly relatives. This disruption of self, skill and routine can lead to depression and can increase burden on other family members.
Only a partial list of challenges and changes for families from MS might include:
- The person with MS is no longer able to work, and their partner has to work more hours.
- Fatigue and physical problems disrupt sleep for the person with MS and their partner.
- The person with MS may lose their ability to drive and could become isolated at home.
- Depression, anxiety, and a fear about future complications can impact the whole family.
How MyHealios can Help
MyHealios is committed to providing valuable support to those affected by multiple sclerosis. Using secure and private telehealth technology, MyHealios provides resilience skills training to inform, train, and empower people affected by multiple sclerosis and their family caregivers.
Our resilience skills training takes place in a “virtual living room”, a unique, interactive platform that supports learning new information about MS and applying this information to daily life. You can access us at home, during the day or in the evening, from any tablet, phone or computer.
What You’ll Learn:
You’ll learn that resilience is shared within families, and that resilience can be increased.
You’ll learn the details about cognitive changes in MS and how to adapt to these changes.
You’ll learn best ways to communicate despite the challenges MS can bring to relationships.
You’ll learn how to recognize stress and how to best care for yourself physically and mentally.
You’ll learn how social connections support resilience and how to increase your connectedness.
Get Involved in our Research
We are looking for volunteers with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and one family member to take part in a six-week online research study to enhance resilience. This study provides information on cognition in MS and how to manage changes, along with learning about resilience. It will be done in your own home at your convenience, all you need is a computer and a web camera. There is no cost to you for participating in the study.
To learn more, click here or call 908-751-0855.