Multiple Sclerosis: Getting and Managing Health Care Needs

Article Source: Caregiver.com By Grace Curry

In order to begin, it is beneficial to learn all you can about the disease and how it’s progression can affect your loved one’s ability to function independently. This information can be found anywhere. It is best to start with the primary health care provider who is following the person with MS. They can help you with a prognosis for the future and perhaps recommend resources available in your community to assist you. Other resources include the Internet, public library, care consultant specialist and magazines such as Today’s Caregiver Magazine that target caregivers and their specific needs.

Next, you need to become aware of the specific needs of the person you care for. These needs should encompass every aspect of daily living and not just those specific to the disease.

Here are some of the problem areas caregivers need to consider when planning care. In doing this it is helpful to consider each area listed and keep a record of the personal needs of your loved one. This will help you to track of the progress in rehabilitation or help to show what problems need to be addressed.

General Health

It is a good idea to make sure that they have a physical exam every year. This should include routine screening exams for cancer. For women, this would include mammograms, and pap smears and in men prostrate and rectal exam. Dealing with problems that MS can bring will be easier if general well being is maintained. Evaluation of neuromuscular and musculoskeletal function should also be a part of the yearly exam. At this time it is also a good idea to have a checklist that you can show the doctor that documents the different levels of functioning and how they have improved or declined since the last checkup.

Neuromuscular checklist includes complaints of pain and spasticity. Musculoskeletal function should include monitoring impairment in a range of motion to all extremities, including the joints.

Below are more specific areas to monitor.

  • Activities of Daily Living

  • Mobility

  • Bowel and Bladder Function: Problems in these areas are common in people with MS monitor any changes in bowel and bladder function. Also, you need to consider if your loved one is able to attend to their own bowel and bladder functioning.

  • Physical limitations can cause problems in completing bowel or bladder routines, and perhaps something as simple as a button or a zipper is the cause of the problem and this can be remedied by using elastic waistbands or velcro closures.

If the person with MS has lost sensation there is no warning of discomfort to change position. This can lead to skin break down. Spending long periods in a wheelchair or long periods of immobility will cause problems. It is advisable to make the physical therapist aware of any difficulties and request recommendations for proper cushions or other pressure reducing appliances to help reduce the chance of impaired skin integrity.