Living with MS

Living with MS

Exercise & Nutrition

Aerobic, resistance and balance exercises are beneficial for most, if not all, chronic health conditions. Exercise can help slow the progression of disability by maintaining your strength, flexibility, balance and coordination. It has also been shown to elevate your mood, and even contribute to the stimulation of the growth of new brain cells.

The main challenge people with multiple sclerosis (MS) face when exercising is managing symptoms such as fatigue, heat intolerance, weakness, and pins and needles. For advice from a physiotherapist on suitable exercise programs tailored to your individual needs, contact MS Assist on 1800 812 311.

Good nutrition, potentially, plays a positive role in the management of MS. Research is revealing positive effects of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, folate and a healthy, low fat diet.

There is no evidence to support any particular diet as a treatment, or cure for MS. We advise that you source additional information, and seek advice from your GP, neurologist, or dietician, before starting any diet that eliminates certain food groups.

For a copy of our “Nutritional Guidelines for MS” booklet, please contact MS Assist on 1800 812 311.

Family & Relationships

Relationships with family, partners, friends and others may change when you are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

MS affects the whole family, and it can sometimes be difficult to discuss the changes that the condition brings. For the children of people with MS, it can be difficult to decide when to tell them, to discuss their feelings about the diagnosis, and how it affects them.

MS has been likened to an unwelcome visitor in the home, disrupting the family dynamics and schedule. In addition, each family member will have different ways of coping with this unplanned change. It’s important to recognise that while dealing with your own diagnosis of MS can be very difficult, it can also be hard on other family members whose coping strategies may differ from yours. Open communication and mutual understanding can help resolve some of the misunderstandings, or difficulties, that may arise. For further information, please contact MS Assist on 1800 812 311.

Work & Education

Many people with MS continue to work and/or study comfortably and productively in their chosen field. In the event that symptoms begin to interfere with your productivity, or ability to perform your role, there are a number of options available. Our Occupational Therapists can provide some information and advice for people living with MS. For further information, please contact MS Assist on 1800 812 311.

Complementary therapies

We recognise that a number of complementary therapies may be helpful in managing aspects of MS, when used in conjunction with conventional treatments. Many people with MS find that one or more of these therapies may ease some symptoms. They can also have positive psychological benefits and improve a person’s sense of wellbeing. On the other hand, some complementary therapies may not be suitable for use in MS.

When you feel you have lost control of your body, just knowing that you can do something for yourself is often a positive step.

The main criteria for assessing whether a complementary therapy, or medicine, may be worth trying include: evidence of efficacy, safety, and cost. For more information on what is known to be helpful to people living with MS, contact MS Assist on 1800 812 311.

Thinking & Memory

MS causes changes to parts of the brain that may affect a person’s capacity to think, concentrate, organise, remember and solve problems. These changes can create stress at home and in the workplace; they are an “invisible” symptom, and can be difficult for others to understand.

There are, however, a large number of strategies, programs, and tips that can be used to help manage, or even regain some of these skills. Contact MS Assist for more information, on 1800 812 311.

Children & MS

Each family is unique, and each person's MS experience is different. There is no right or wrong way to talk about MS with children, and no ideal time.

Whether you should tell your children you have MS, when, and how to do it, are common dilemmas for parents. How much information you give them will depend on their age, and how you feel they might react.

Not wanting to distress or worry them unnecessarily, is a common reason for not saying anything. It’s a very personal decision. It is often helpful to start with small amounts of information and gradually build up. Regardless of the ages of your children, the book “Talking with your kids about MS” is a parent’s guide on how to raise the subject, some things children may want to know, and other parents' experiences. We recommend you speak with a MSSANT Nurse for more information on how to discuss your diagnosis with your children. Please contact MS Assist on 1800 812 311.

Children who have MS

Whilst the majority of people diagnosed with MS are aged between 20 and 50 years, there is an increasing number of children being diagnosed with early onset MS, aged between 10 and 16. Globally, this amounts to only a small percentage of all cases diagnosed.

In the under 10 age group the incidence is higher in boys, but over the age of 10 girls are more frequently affected (as with adults). Fortunately, the current treatments used for adults are also effective for children.

Ageing & MS

The latest evidence shows that generally, the life expectancy of people with MS is similar to those without the condition. Many people with MS will face the normal age-related changes in their life and health, in addition to those resulting from their MS.

Potentially, two major differences between those ageing with MS, and those without, include leaving employment earlier and needing more assistance over time.

MSSANT Nurses have experience with working with ageing adults and people with MS. They can advise on issues such as quality of life, coping, symptom management, education and disability.

Living with MS