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Supporting your loved one

An MS diagnosis is the start of an unpredictable and sometimes daunting time, so providing support to your loved one can be very important.

Your role could range from simply listening, providing practical and/or emotional support or helping to track symptom changes together. This everyday support can have a considerable impact on someone’s life and can help with navigating MS progression.

Supporting your loved ones
Understanding the different types of MS

Understanding the different types of MS

Each person’s MS is unique, and that isn’t just because of the types of symptoms that can appear, but also because there are three different types of MS – RRMS, SPMS and PPMS.

FAQs

What role can I play in helping my loved one manage their MS?

Watching someone you love go through a difficult time, experience uncomfortable symptoms, and face new and sometimes daunting challenges can be difficult and painful. However, you can provide support and be proactive — just remember to be mindful of your loved one’s wishes and needs.

Here are some initial tips to consider:

  • Offer to sit together and research MS. This can include learning more about the symptoms and treatment options or simply finding local support groups and forums.
  • Keep in contact, from phone calls to FaceTime. It’s important for those dealing with a MS diagnosis to know they have someone to lean on in both good times and bad.

What signs of MS progression should I be looking out for?

One of the key roles as a friend or family member of a loved one with MS is to help track MS symptoms. Family and friends can help in spotting signs of progression in the condition, as they may be the people who notice small symptom changes first. General signs to look out for include:1

  • Cognitive changes e.g.
    • Difficultly concentrating or focusing, or memory issues
    • Change in mood
  • Physical changes e.g.
    • Simple tasks begin to become difficult
    • Difficulty in walking long distance without taking a rest
    • Need to visit the toilet more often

Other symptoms to look out for include missing special events due to lack of energy, feeling fatigued or getting tired more easily1.

If I notice changes in my loved one’s symptoms, how should I tell them?

The change from one phase of MS to another can be gradual. Symptom changes can be subtle, so it is not always easy for people with MS to keep track of these. Some changes may not be as noticeable to them as they may be to those around them. 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.

What information and resources are there for people like me to help support my loved one?

As a friend or family member of someone living with MS, you may experience a range of feelings. Click through to the resources page for more information on available support.

 

References:

  1. NHS website. Multiple Sclerosis symptoms. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/multiple-sclerosis/symptoms/. Accessed April 2020.