Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

Daily Living

MS can affect different areas of your life and may change how you do various activities. If you sometimes feel overwhelmed with how MS is affecting your life – or are considering giving up an activity that you love to do – these tips may stir your own imagination to find new approaches to living with MS.

The following links will take you to some solutions and tips that people have used to help them cope with the challenges of day-to-day living with MS:

Adaptive Clothing

Clothing may not be the first thing that comes to mind after a diagnosis of MS, but for many the question of how to dress can quickly become relevant to daily living.


If MS affects your balance and coordination, select shoes with significant “tread” on the sole rather than a smooth surface. If you experience numbness on the bottom of your feet, however, you may opt for a thinner sole to better “feel” the ground beneath you.

Side-zip pants

Adding an invisible zipper to the seamline along the sides of pant legs can allow for easier dressing and undressing. Side-zip pants are ideal for people using wheelchairs and scooters, as they eliminate the need to pull pants legs up; instead the pants may be placed around the legs, with a thin zipper closing the pants from calf to waist.


Shirts that can be pulled over or zipped may be better options than shirts with buttons, snaps or ties for people who experience symptoms that affect the use of their fingers, hands or arms.

Cooling bandanas and scarves

For people with heat sensitivity, cooling clothing may provide some relief. Cooling clothing contains gel crystals that retain cold temperatures when they are wet; they come in various styles, from bandanas to vests.

Looking to shop online in Canada?

Adaptive Clothing (French) for Mode Ézé Plus in Montreal

Cooling Clothing

Energy Saving

For people with MS who experience fatigue, it is important to learn how to save energy and handle fatigue as well as possible. After all, fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of this disease, and it has negative repercussions on the daily life of many people with MS. That’s why it’s essential to adopt effective energy-saving strategies.


  • Work sitting down at the table instead of standing up at the counter. If you do work at the counter, sit on a high stool or, if you have to stand for a long time and your balance is good enough, open a cupboard door and put one foot on the bottom shelf in order to reduce tension in the lumbar region.
  • Rearrange your cupboards so that the objects you use most frequently are handy: Lazy Susans and sliding shelves can make it much easier to store things accessibly.
  • Use lightweight, easy-to-handle dishes. To save steps, use “French” service, setting all the food out on the table.
  • To set and clear the table, use a trolley.

Living room

  • Before sitting down, collect everything you’ll need: remote control, phone, book and tea.
  • Make sure you have good lighting and a comfortable chair that allows you to sit with good posture and thus to rest properly.


  • To make your bed more easily, arrange the covers as much as you can before you even get up and then sit on the edge of the bed or on a nearby chair to finish the job.
  • Use a duvet instead of blankets and a bedspread. If necessary, put blocks under the bed to raise it up, so that you won’t have to lean over too much.
  • Arrange your bed so that both sides are away from the wall and easily accessible.
  • Have a reading lamp placed where you can turn it on easily (some can be activated by touching them or clapping your hands). Eliminate all unnecessary objects.
  • Keep circulation space clear, and take a few minutes to analyze how your drawers and closets are organized: get rid of unused clothing that’s cluttering them up!
  • If necessary, lower the clothes rails and shelves in your closets. Bathroom
  • For safety’s sake, have a good-quality rubber mat in the bathtub and dry it off after each use.
  • Make sure that your bath mat is non-skid. They keep you more stable when you’re standing and make it easier to get into and out of the bath.
  • If you find it difficult to get up out of the bath, use a bath bench with an adjustable height; you’ll be able to wash safely while remaining seated. Be sure to buy a safe model that is adapted to your condition. If necessary, consult an occupational therapist.
  • A telephone-style shower will allow you to rinse completely, even if you use a bench and remain seated during your shower.
  • A bottle of liquid soap or a soap dispenser attached to the wall within easy reach is more practical than a bar of soap that will slide all over floor of the bathtub, just as a bath glove is easier to handle than a washcloth; a long-handled brush will allow you to wash your back and feet easily.
  • When you’re standing at the sink to brush your teeth, shave or wash, pay attention to your posture.
  • To wash your feet or dry yourself, sit on the toilet seat or on a solid, non-skid bench.
  • To clean the bathtub, use a “spray and rinse” product immediately after your bath, which reduces the need to scrub it out each time. For more thorough cleaning, kneel down and use a long-handled brush or a mop.

For more tips on energy saving techniques please read the publication, Some guidelines on saving energy For people with multiple sclerosis

Safety Around the Home

Making specific changes around the home can significantly reduce injuries or mitigate high-risk situations, such as falling or getting a burn. Here are some suggested precautions.


  • Use a microwave oven instead of a traditional stove and kettle.
  • When using a stove:
    1. Select a model with controls located at the front
    2. Use the back burners whenever possible
    3. Use a stove guard which fits around the side or front of the stove.
  • Buy a kettle and iron with an automatic switch-off.
  • When loading a dishwasher, ensure that knives and other sharp utensils are placed safely out of the way. Point blades and other sharp objects downward.
  • Wear rubber gloves when washing glassware or knives.
  • Keep regularly used household items, such as kitchen utensils, towels and linens, where they can be easily reached.
  • Serve food from where it is cooked, directly onto plates. You won't have to carry saucepans or casseroles of hot food.
  • Avoid:
    1. breakable dinnerware
    2. electric egg beaters
    3. electric carving knives


  • Never lock the bathroom door.
  • Take showers rather than baths. Sit down when showering, and shower only when someone else is at home.
  • Avoid baths entirely. A sponge bath using the sink is a safe alternative.
  • Keep a rubber bath mat on the floor of the shower, and pad the edge of the tub with a folded towel.
  • To prevent burns, turn on the cold water first.
  • Avoid glass shower doors.
  • Don't allow face cloths or sponges to block the drain, causing the tub to fill with water.
  • Consider installing doors, which swing open in both directions, or a fall-alarm system.

Other Home Safety Measures

  • Maintain well-lighted areas in and around the home.
  • Use nightlights.
  • Keep floors free of obstacles.
  • Fasten loose rugs to the floor.
  • Select low, dense-pile carpet rather than shag.
  • Wear low-heeled, well-fitting shoes with good traction.
  • Select furniture with rounded edges.
  • Use padded furniture and put protective padding around the corners of tables.
  • When decorating, avoid glass and mirror tiles as well as floor or table lamps.
  • Whenever possible, place furniture against the wall.
  • If you require a wheelchair, use one with a leg recliner and padded arms.
  • Portable phones or beepers provide a way to call for help from any part of the house.
  • Bungalows and split-level houses are safer than two-storey homes.
  • Look for ground level entry when purchasing or renting a house.
  • Install handrails on both sides of a staircase.
  • Staircases with several landings are recommended to prevent long falls.
  • Consider sitting as you go up or down stairs.
  • Forced air heating is preferable to exposed heating elements such as radiators and baseboard heaters.

Seniors and others who may be vulnerable and who live alone can work out a simple code with friends and neighbours. A flower pot in the window, or a shade that is lowered and raised according to a schedule, can reassure friends and neighbours that all is well, or alert them if there are problems.

(Adapted from Sharing, the official journal of Epilepsy Ontario Vol. 16, No. 2, Summer 2000:


Be prepared for increased security when flying

If you will be travelling with injectible medications within Canada you should have a letter from your doctor describing the medications and medical devices that you require. It is also a good idea to keep all medications in their original packaging showing the prescription label.

The bag you use for medical supplies or assistive devices usually is not counted in the limit of one carry-on bag and one personal bag (purse or briefcase). It is a good idea to clarify the policy of the airline you are using at the time you book your ticket.

Requirements for the U.S. are more stringent. Doctors' letters and written prescriptions are not accepted because of forgery concerns. Instead, all medications must be in their original packaging with a professional, pharmaceutical pre-printed label that clearly identifies the medication.

In addition, when you book your flight, make the airline aware of devices you use (leg braces, walker or wheelchair) or assistance that you will need to board and leave the plane and during the flight.

You should expect to be screened carefully, possibly with the use of a hand-held medical detector, especially if you use a wheelchair and can't stand up. Assistive devices that you need on board will also be examined.

Travel safety

Whether you're planning a trip, visiting family or taking a walk around your neighbourhood, ensure your health is always protected. According to health experts, the biggest threat to health while travelling is not a rare disease from an exotic destination, but a flare-up of an existing medical condition.

  • Before you leave, schedule a visit to your physician. Be sure to obtain all the medical care, prescriptions and documentation you need. If you are planning a trip to an exotic destination, receive any necessary vaccinations.
  • Plan for enough medication to cover 1 week longer than you expect to be gone.
  • Keep all medications in their original package.
  • Wear a MedicAlert (or similar) ID bracelet. During a medical emergency, it is important that first responders and other health professionals are alerted to any pre-existing conditions. If you are unable to speak, a MedicAlert bracelet or necklet can speak for you, notifying health care personnel or other bystanders of your condition, and any medication you are taking. One call to its 24-hour emergency hotline, available worldwide in 140 languages, gives healthcare professionals access to your medical profile and personal contacts.

(Adapted from Sharing, the official journal of Epilepsy Ontario Vol. 16, No. 2, Summer 2000: