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Multiple Sclerosis: Getting and Managing
Health Care Needs

By Grace Curry

(Page 2 of 3)

Psychological functioning also needs to be monitored. This is an area that is often avoided because many people get embarrassed talking about it. Yet, problems with emotional issues are not uncommon in people with MS, and periodic evaluations by a psychologist can help to prevent serious complications from developing. 

More Specific Areas to Monitor

While it is good to have yearly checkups, or as frequent as your doctor feels is necessary, there are some areas that need to be monitored routinely to help ensure proper management of your loved one with MS and their care. Letís take a brief look at some of these areas here. You will find a more comprehensive checklist accompanying this article that you can copy and use to help monitor all these areas. Keep copies of the list to use as comparison and to show your health care provider on routine checkups. 

Activities of Daily living:

How much assistance is required for your family member to eat, dress, cook, clean, perform personal hygiene and any other necessary functions? In many cases an occupational therapist can help with these areas and it is advisable to get a consultation for an initial evaluation and periodic updates. 

Mobility:

What limitations does the person with MS have? Can they get around the house and the community without difficulty? Is driving a car an issue at this time? Again in many instances a consult to a physical therapist will help in this evaluation initially and provide recommendations for any adaptive equipment determined to be helpful in their situation. Braces, canes, mobility devices such as scooters or wheel chairs can go a long way towards maintaining independent functioning. The more the person with MS can do for themselves, the easier your role of caregiver will be. 

Bowel and Bladder Function:

Problems in these areas are common in people with MS. Monitor any changes in bowel and bladder function. Also you need to consider if your loved one is able to attend to their own bowel and bladder functioning. Physical limitations can cause problems in completing bowel or bladder routines, and perhaps something as simple as a button or a zipper is the cause of the problem and this can be remedied by using elastic waistbands or velcro closures. Constipation and frequent bladder infections can be very frustrating and so setting up a program to maintain regularity can often improve the level of functioning by helping to keep your loved one continent and regular.

Skin Integrity:

Has a loss of sensation occurred? This can lead to problems because we change or shift positions based on our comfort level. We sense pressure to the sitting area and move. If the person with MS has lost sensation there is no warning of discomfort to change position. This can lead to skin break down. Spending long periods in a wheelchair or long periods of immobility will cause problems. It is advisable to make the physical therapist aware of any difficulties and request recommendations for proper cushions or other pressure reducing appliances to help reduce the chance of impaired skin integrity. 


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