Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the nervous system that occurs when the individual’s immune system attacks the protective myelin coating of their nerves, disrupting the normal communication between the brain and the body. The disease may go through periods of remission and relapse that can make maintenance of a normal life challenging. The individual’s spouse will likely be one of the strongest means of support as the patient learns to deal with the symptoms of the disease.
Family and Friends
Family and friends can be an invaluable help to those with multiple sclerosis. Be frank with them about your symptoms and what help you will need as you learn to manage the illness. Assure them that you are still the same person who still enjoys group and social activities.
Telling Your Children
Honesty is the best policy when informing your children about your condition. Children are adaptable creatures that can understand a great deal. Secrecy and uncertainty make children feel insecure. Try to provide the facts of your illness in a simple manner that they can understand. Remember that young children have a short attention span. Keep informational sessions short and make it clear they can come to you with any questions that arise along the way. Older children can understand a longer, more detailed explanation. In either case, assure them that support services are available for you, for them and for the family to help them manage the condition.
Many MS patients continue to work for financial reasons and also, because being involved in normal life and interactions help them to deal with their illness. Deciding whether to tell your employer about your illness is a difficult decision. Some patients prefer to keep this information private. Others feel that their condition may affect their work, and the employer can better prepare for their absences if they know about the disease. Other patients feel they must change their type of work in order to manage their disease. These are individual choices that people decide based on their own situation.
Financial Planning After Diagnosis
Having a long-term disease necessarily affects one’s finances. Patients with MS can take proactive steps to financially prepare for the future to ensure that they and their families have all that they need regardless of the progress of the disease. Financial arrangements may include such important matters such as health insurance coverage, employee benefits, investments, mortgages and tax considerations. Estate planning concerns such as power of attorney, healthcare directive, will and living will should be addressed after your diagnosis to prepare for any eventuality. A good financial planning professional can help with these matters to ensure your peace of mind as you deal with your medical issues.