Helping a loved one with MS

If your friend or loved one has MS, you may be wondering what you can do to help. The ways you can help may depend on your relationship and the person's needs. But there are a few ideas that can apply to everyone who wants to help a friend or loved one with MS.

Learn more about MS. Having a better understanding of the disease will not only help you understand the physical and emotional challenges your friend or loved one is facing, but it will also make it easier for you to help them. You can learn more about MS by contacting your local MS society or visiting the MS information channel on this website.

Offer to help. The person you'd like to help may feel guilty or shy about asking for help. Make it easier for them by offering your help, even if they don't ask. Don't be surprised if your friend can't suggest something specific for you to do – they may not have thought about it or may feel embarrassed to ask for something in particular. To avoid this, be specific. Offer to do a particular task during a certain pre-scheduled time period. For example, you could offer to cook dinner on Mondays or drive them (or their kids) to appointments every Thursday. But don't push – some people are fiercely independent, and you might offend them if you push too hard. A simple offer of assistance is often enough.

Help with your strengths. When thinking of things you can do to help, consider your strengths. If you like to cook, make a few meals they'll like and bring them over. If you have a car and free time, offer to drive them to appointments or do errands. If you're a lawyer, you could offer advice on legal issues such as employment, insurance, or accessibility. If you're good with kids, you could offer some free babysitting. And don't forget: whatever your skills, sometimes the best way to help is just to be there to listen.

Network. Many MS societies organize conferences, workshops, and multiple sclerosis support groups. This can be a great way to stay up to date on the newest information and learn from others who are helping people with MS.

Remember to take care of yourself. Caregivers and helpers may become "burned out" if they don't take care of their own needs. Be sure to get enough rest, eat well, and schedule some "me time" where you can relax and recharge.

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