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Multiple Sclerosis: Getting and
Health Care Needs
If you are caregiving to a friend or
relative with Multiple Sclerosis, you already know how
difficult it can be to manage that care. Services once
covered by health care insurance no longer are
available. Managed care and increased benefit cutbacks
in both private and federal health care agencies have
made getting quality care difficult. It is not just the
person with Multiple Sclerosis who is affected by this.
Many others dealing with various diseases and
disabilities have found trying to obtain adequate care,
a very frustrating concern. As caregivers, we see the
responsibility to ensure quality care is provided to our
loved one falling more and more of on our shoulders.
We are learning through trial and error that what you
see is not always what you get in relation to satisfying
health care needs. We have also been “managing” the care
of our family member, or significant other, for a long
time. We are experts. We have learned it behooves us to
be proactive in the health care planning, implementation
and delivery of that care. It is not always easy to know
just where to begin or how to know if what we are doing
is the right thing to do.
In order to begin, it is beneficial to learn all you can
about the disease and how it’s progression can affect
your loved one’s ability to function independently. This
information can be found anywhere. It is best to start
with the primary health care provider who is following
the person with MS. They can help you with a prognosis
for the future and perhaps recommend resources available
in your community to assist you. Other resources include
the Internet, public library, care consultant specialist
and magazines such as Today’s Caregiver Magazine that
target caregivers and their specific needs.
Next you need to become aware of the specific needs of
the person you care for. These needs should encompass
every aspect of daily living and not just those specific
to the disease.
Here are some of the problem areas caregivers need to
consider when planning care. In doing this it is helpful
to consider each area listed and keep a record of the
personal needs of your loved one. This will help you to
track of the progress in rehabilitation or help to show
what problems need to be addressed.
It is a good idea to make sure that they have a physical
exam every year. This should include routine screening
exams for cancer. For women this would include
mammograms, and pap smears and in men prostrate and
rectal exam. Dealing with problems that MS can bring
will be easier if general well being is maintained.
Evaluation of neuromuscular and musculoskeletal function
should also be a part of the yearly exam.
At this time it is also a good idea to have a checklist
that you can show the doctor that documents the
different levels of functioning and how they have
improved or declined since the last check up.
Neuromuscular checklist includes: complaints of pain and
Musculoskeletal function should include monitoring
impairment in range of motion to all extremities,
including the joints.