Coping With Multiple Sclerosis—For Patients and Caregivers

Rebecca Evans@GeriatricNursing.org, a registered nurse,and a health writer, honors March as  Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month by compositing the follow blog to share with the readers of our blog:

For individuals diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the diagnosis can be both scary (after all, what does multiple sclerosis really mean?) and a relief (the thing that has been haunting your life finally has a name).

After that diagnosis, however, there can be a transition period, where you struggle to figure out what your treatment and management plan should look like—and where the people in your life struggle to figure out how to act around you, and how to best help you.

That transition period can be incredibly difficult, frustrating, and stressful. Hopefully this article can help you both as you make the transition.

After all, MS patients need help and support—support friends and family often want to give, but may not know how. Consider this a beginning as you start the dialogue with your friends and family.

 

Communication and Education

When a diagnosis is first made, you, your friends, and your family may all have a lot of reading to do. What is MS? What are the symptoms? What are the treatments? What’s the long-term prognosis?

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4 Sneaky Signs of Burnout

 

Tired asian man with eye pain holding glasses in hand

Elizabeth Millard shared with  self@newsletter.self.com  with daunting work tasks, never-finished housework, and raging political firestorms, it’s easy to feel depleted. But when does that frazzle turn from temporary stress into chronic stress and burnout?

“We’re not machines, we all have a limit,” says Jephtha Tausig-Edwards, M.D., a New York–based clinical psychologist. “If you hit that, then you come to the point where you can’t function effectively,” she tells SELF.

Clinically, burnout is defined as having three distinct components: a feeling of low personal accomplishment, detachment from others, and emotional exhaustion. This might come from overwork, but almost any aspect of life can deliver chronic stress if there’s a sense of being overwhelmed.

For example, you could get burned out from volunteer work, exercise, family responsibilities, or any combination of the above. So you’re chairing five committees, dog sitting for a neighbor, and just took on a major basement cleanout? That cracking sound you hear is your self-care abilities splintering.

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4 Rules for Exercising with Osteoporosis

Linda Melone shared in the Silver Sneakers online news for Rivity Health that if you have osteoporosis, you may worry that being active means you’re more likely to fall and break a bone. But the opposite is true. Regular exercise with a properly designed program can help prevent falls and fractures. That’s because exercise strengthens bones and muscles, and improves balance, coordination, and flexibility—all key for people with osteoporosis.

The problem is that guidelines for exercising with osteoporosis are not crystal clear. In general, “you want to do exercises that improve or maintain bone density in the way of strength or resistance training and also include impact-style aerobic exercise,” says Karen Kemmis, D.P.T., an expert for the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

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Stay social and active in your community for healthy aging!

The National Institute on Aging suggests Engaging in social and productive activities you enjoy, like taking an art class or becoming a volunteer in your community or at your place of worship, may help to maintain your well-being as you get older.

Research tells us that older people with an active lifestyle:

  • Are less likely to develop certain diseases. Participating in hobbies and other social and leisure pursuits may lower risk for developing some health problems, including dementia.
  • Have a longer lifespan. One study showed that older adults who reported taking part in social activities (such as playing games, belonging to social groups, or traveling) or meaningful, productive activities (such as having a paid or unpaid job, or gardening) lived longer than people who did not. Researchers are further exploring this connection.

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8 Sneaky Offenders that Cause Weight Fluctuations

Julia Malacoff, Julia@jmalacoff is a former fashion editor turned health and fitness buff who writes about all things lifestyle—especially workouts and food. Recently she shared with MyFitness Pal that when you’re working toward a weight-loss goal, it’s normal to be watching the number on the scale like a hawk waiting for any changes that might occur. But if you’ve been tracking your weight for even a few weeks, you’ve probably noticed fluctuations are common. Still, they can be frustrating to see when you’re working hard to get into your best shape ever.

Even for those who aren’t actively trying to lose weight, it can be unwelcome to see the scale jump up. Rest assured, weight changes from one day to the next are generally temporary and, according to experts, they don’t mean you’re not making progress.

Here, find eight explanations for why your weight can spike — straight from nutritionists who help people meet their weight-loss goals every day — that have nothing to do with gaining fat.

1. YOU DRANK A TON OF WATER

It’s true that staying well-hydrated is a good move if you’re trying to lose weight, but the first few days of upping your water intake could actually cause the number on the scale to creep up, too. Why? “Let’s break down what weight really is,” says Megan Ware, RDN. “It is not just the measurement of fat in the body. It is the weight of your bones, organs, muscles, fluid and waste. When you’re dehydrated, you actually weigh less, but that doesn’t mean you are healthier. Let’s say you don’t drink much fluid one day, and the next morning you wake up and your weight is down. Then you drink a ton of water and the next day it looks like you gained 2 pounds. That does not mean you gained 2 pounds of fat; it just means that your body was depleted of water the day before.”

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The Flu: What To Do If You Get Sick

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention shared that ost people with the flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs. If you get sick with flu symptoms, in most cases, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care.

If, however, you have symptoms of flu and are in a high risk group, or are very sick or worried about your illness, contact your health care provider (doctor, physician assistant, etc.).

Certain people are at high risk of serious flu-related complications (including young children, people 65 and older, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions). This is true both for seasonal flu and novel flu virus infections. (For a full list of people at high risk of flu-related complications, see People at High Risk of Developing Flu–Related Complications). If you are in a high risk group and develop flu symptoms, it’s best for you to contact your doctor early in your illness. Remind them about your high risk status for flu. CDC recommends that people at high risk for complications should get antiviral treatment as early as possible, because benefit is greatest if treatment is started within 2 days after illness onset.Do I need to go the emergency room if I am only a little sick?

Do I need to go the emergency room if I am only a little sick?

No. The emergency room should be used for people who are very sick. You should not go to the emergency room if you are only mildly ill.

If you have the emergency warning signs of flu sickness, you should go to the emergency room. If you get sick with flu symptoms and are at high risk of flu complications or you are concerned about your illness, call your health care provider for advice. If you go to the emergency room and you are not sick with the flu, you may catch it from people who do have it. Read more

Be Prepared to Stay Safe and Healthy in Winter

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention shared that winter storms and cold temperatures can be dangerous. Stay safe and healthy by planning ahead. Prepare your home and cars. Prepare for power outages and outdoor activity. Check on older adults.

Although winter comes as no surprise, many of us are not ready for its arrival. If you are prepared for the hazards of winter, you will be more likely to stay safe and healthy when temperatures start to fall.

Take These Steps for Your Home

Many people prefer to remain indoors during winter, but staying inside is no guarantee of safety. Take these steps to keep your home safe and warm during the winter months.

  • Winterize your home.
    • Install weather stripping, insulation, and storm windows.
    • Insulate water lines that run along exterior walls.
    • Clean out gutters and repair roof leaks.
  • Check your heating systems.
    • Have your heating system serviced professionally to make sure that it is clean, working properly, and ventilated to the outside.
    • Inspect and clean fireplaces and chimneys.
    • Install a smoke detector. Test batteries monthly and replace them twice a year.
    • Have a safe alternate heating source and alternate fuels available.
    • Prevent carbon monoxide (CO) emergencies.
      • Install a CO detector to alert you of the presence of the deadly, odorless, colorless gas. Check batteries when you change your clocks in the fall and spring.
      • Learn symptoms of CO poisoning: headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.

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#MoveWithHeart! in February

Go4Life from the National Institute on Aging shared that February is National Heart Month and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute at NIH is asking people to pledge to #MoveWithHeart this February and all year long.

Did you know that by simply moving more, you can lower your risk of getting heart disease or having a stroke? Many types of activity can help your heart—going on a hike or taking the stairs, biking to the store or around the block, wheeling yourself in your wheelchair.

Choices you might make every day can contribute to heart disease. Do you smoke? Are you overweight? Do you spend the day sitting at a desk or in front of the TV? Do you avoid doing exercise? Do you drink a lot of alcohol? If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, making healthy lifestyle changes might help you prevent or delay heart disease.

Take the following steps to keep your heart healthy:

Be more physically active. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most or all days of the week. Every day is best. It doesn’t have to be done all at once —10-minute periods will do. Start by doing activities you enjoy —brisk walking, dancing, swimming, bicycling, or playing basketball or tennis.

If you smoke, quit. It’s never too late to get some benefit from quitting smoking.

Follow a heart healthy diet. Choose low-fat foods and those that are low in salt. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and foods high in fiber. Following a healthy eating plan and being physically active might help you.

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Can’t Sleep? Try using essential oils!

College of DuPage Nursing Student Betsy Canedo shared that it is currently estimated that only 1 out of 3 Americans currently get enough sleep. On average, a typical adult sleeps and average of 6 hours a night and another 40 percent are estimated to sleep less than 6 hours (CDC, 2016).

Most individuals use sleeping aids, although sleeping pills have side effects like grogginess the next morning and other effects. One proven remedy that offers help with sleep without the unwanted lingering side effects are essential oils.

Essential oils have been available for years and are proven to help with sleep (https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/best-essential-oils-and-their-benefits/#.WncqwkTr4Dk.email)

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4 Tips to Help You Remember the Doctor’s Instructions

Three business partners keeping thumbs up

The National Institute on Aging shared that no matter what your age, it’s easy to forget a lot of what your doctor says. Even if you are comfortable talking with your doctor, you may not always understand what he or she says. So, as your doctor gives you information, it’s a good idea to check that you are following along. Ask about anything that does not seem clear. For instance, you might say: “I want to make sure I understand. Could you explain that a little more?”or “I did not understand that word. What does it mean?”

Another way to check is to repeat what you think the doctor means in your own words and ask, “Is this correct?” Here are some other ideas to help make sure you have all the information you need.

  • Take notes. Take along a notepad and pen and write down the main points, or ask the doctor to write them down for you. If you can’t write while the doctor is talking to you, make notes in the waiting room after the visit. Or, bring an audio recorder along and (with the doctor’s permission) record what is said. Recording is especially helpful if you want to share the details of the visit with others.
  • Get written or recorded materials. Ask if your doctor has any brochures, DVDs, or other materials about your health conditions or treatments. For example, if your doctor says that your blood pressure is high, he or she may give you brochures explaining what causes high blood pressure and what you can do about it. Ask the doctor to recommend other sources, such as websites, disease management centers, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies that may have written or recorded information you can use.
  • Talk to other members of the healthcare team. Sometimes, the doctor may want you to talk with other health professionals who can help you understand and carry out the decisions about how to manage your condition. Nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, and occupational or physical therapists may be able to take more time with you than the doctor.
    • Call or email the doctor. If you are uncertain about the doctor’s instructions after you get home, call the office. A nurse or other staff member can check with the doctor and call you back. You could ask whether the doctor, or other health professional you have talked to, has an email address or online health portal you can use to send questions.

    For More Information About Questions to Ask the Doctor During an Appointment

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
    1-800-232-4636 (toll-free)
    1-888-232-6348 (TTY/toll-free)
    cdcinfo@cdc.gov
    www.cdc.gov

    Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
    1-800-633-4227 (toll-free)
    1-877-486-2048 (TTY/toll-free)
    www.medicare.gov

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