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How has MS affected you?


Living with Multiple Sclerosis
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I am a spouse or partner of someone with MS

It can be difficult to watch your loved one face some of the challenges that accompany a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. It can also be hard, as a spouse, to wonder and worry about what the future will bring now that MS is part of the family.

You may experience a wide range of emotions in response to your partner’s diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. You may even feel some grief for your own losses. These feelings are normal.

Coping strategies now that MS is part of the family

Despite the changes multiple sclerosis may (or may not) bring, it is important to remember that your spouse or partner is the same person they were before the diagnosis. Open communication, being informed about MS, and respecting both your spouse’s and your own different coping styles in a stressful situation, are all ways to handle the presence of MS. Visit the section on Multiple Sclerosis to find out more about the disease and its symptoms.

Multiple sclerosis may also affect your family life, and you may find that some of your roles change over time. Children will have questions or concerns about what is happening. An open approach is also recommended for the family: talk honestly and tailor your discussion to each person’s concerns, age and coping styles. For more information on talking about MS with children, visit I am a parent with MS.

Providing care to the partner with MS

Some spouses or partners of people with MS gradually assume some type of care for the individual with MS. This may involve helping with medication, more responsibilities around the home or in parenting, and/or assisting with mobility issues. The vast majority of people assume this caregiver role willingly, as a loving partner supporting their spouse. However, it can be emotionally and physically challenging. Some people have not recognized their new role as caregiver until years have passed or the partner with MS has serious health or mobility issues.

The MS Society of Canada encourages spouses to recognize and understand their role as caregivers – and to start taking care of themselves – as early as possible. To learn more, visit I am a caregiver to someone with MS and/or read a special insert from the September 2005 issue of the MS Ontario newsletter entitled Does supporting someone with MS make you a caregiver?

Other issues that may arise

Some symptoms associated with MS can be difficult to talk about. Some people with MS may have symptoms related to sexuality, emotions, bowel / bladder, thinking and/or memory. These can be very personal topics, but if your partner is experiencing any of these symptoms, consider learning more and try to talk about the issue(s) with him or her in an open manner. Information on these topics is available online in our publications section. We also have a recommended resources which suggests quality books on topics such as coping, sexuality, relationships and caregiving.

You can also contact your MS Society division at 1-800-268-7582 or your nearest MS Society office to discuss these issues in a confidential and down-to-earth manner. To find the MS Society office closest to you, visit In Your Community.

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