It looks like you are using an older version of Internet Explorer which is not supported. We advise that you update your browser to the latest version of Microsoft Edge, or consider using other browsers such as Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

Speaking to your loved one about MS progression

It’s often difficult for someone living with MS to think about the possibility of their condition getting worse – what is referred to as ‘progression’. Being there for your loved one is very important. This support often extends further than physical and emotional care, and into helping with tracking symptoms. It can potentially help them with defining the best care for them to manage their condition.

Changes in the type and severity of MS symptoms experienced can happen over time, so a possible progression of the condition may not be that noticeable at first. You can help in spotting signs of advances in the condition, as you may be the person who notices small symptom changes first. General signs to look out for include1:

  • Cognitive changes
    • Difficulty to concentrate or focus on work or tasks
    • Change in mood
  • Physical changes
    • Simple tasks begin to become difficult
    • Difficulty in walking long distance without taking a rest
    • Need to visit the toilet more often

When you notice any signs of worsening symptoms, take the time to sit down and have an open conversation with your loved one to discuss the possibility of visiting the MS specialist, neurologist, or MS nurse to discuss symptom changes.

Here are some top tips on communicating with your loved one about progression:

Know your loved one’s MS

A basic understanding of MS is essential, of course, but it is important to understand your loved one’s specific symptoms and the challenges they face, so that you can work together to address them.

Listen

Take the time to really listen to your loved one. If possible, schedule regular weekly time for this conversation2. Make sure you ask your loved one how they’d like to talk about what’s on their mind.

Support networks

Don’t feel that you should have all the answers. Remember that there are a range of support networks and resources  that you or your loved one could turn to for support, and to connect with others in similar situations.

As MS can change over time, the kinds of treatment and support needed – both practical and emotional – might change too. By supporting your loved one to track symptom changes and encouraging them to speak to a MS specialist, neurologist or MS nurse, can in turn help to ensure the best possible care.
 

References:

  1. NHS website. Multiple Sclerosis symptoms. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/multiple-sclerosis/symptoms. Accessed April 2020. 
  2. MS Society. Advanced MS. https://www.mssociety.org.uk/care-and-support/resources-and-publications/publications-search/advanced-ms---a-carers-handbook. Accessed April 2020.