Looking after yourself
Caring for someone with MS can sometimes be a physically and emotionally demanding role. When you're giving care and support to someone else it can be all too easy to neglect your own health and wellbeing. However it's really important to look after yourself, particularly because keeping well means you'll be able to continue caring. It’s easier said than done of course, with so many other priorities in the day. There’s no magic wand, but there are lots of ways you can help to maintain your physical and mental health. In this section:
Our booklet Caring for someone with MS has detailed information on:
- looking after your back
- eating well
- dealing with emotions like anger and guilt
- stress and depression
- coping with loneliness and isolation
Order a copy from the online shop or call the Information team on 020 8438 0799.
Expert Patients Programme courses for carers
There may be an Expert Patients Programme course for carers running near you. The course is called 'Looking After Me' and is a self management course for adults who care for someone with a long-term condition. It's designed to help carers look after their own health needs. Check the EPP website for details of local courses, or call them on freephone 0800 988 5560 (from a mobile phone call 01925 320 000).
Taking regular breaks from caring is vital to ensure you've got time to rest and recharge your batteries. Breaks can be taken together or apart, and can take a really wide variety of forms - where you decide to go and what you decide to do is up to you. You are the expert when it comes to planning the short break, holiday or respite care that suits you and your family.
There are lots of organisations that can help you get a break by providing replacement support for the person you care for. This could be provided at home, in a hotel with care, or on a supported holiday for example. You may also be entitled to practical and financial support from social services to help you take a break - this would involve them assessing your needs in a Carers Assessment.
If you want to talk to someone to explore the options that are available, contact the Information team on 020 8438 0799 or email email@example.com.
MS can have a big impact on the family and friends of someone who's living with the condition, especially if they start to rely more and more on care and support from the people around them. Many people who are affected by MS find that it helps to talk about their feelings and experiences of caring to other people. This could be a friend or family member, a professional, or someone else who has experience of caring. You'll soon realise that you're not alone, and that help and advice is available from many different sources.
Our free and confidential helpline is available if you'd like someone to talk to. Most of our helpline volunteers have personal experience of MS or caring, and can signpost you to other organisations if needed. Call the helpline on 0808 800 8000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You might benefit from finding a local support group. Your local MS Society branch or Carers' Centre will be able to put you in touch with support groups in your area. Alternatively, ask your GP for details of groups where you live.
Online forums for families and carers
Share your concerns, questions and experiences with other carers online. We have a dedicated forum for carers of people with MS, and Carers Trust and Carers UK have similar chat rooms and forums for carers on their own websites.
It might also be helpful to talk to a professional counsellor. Counselling is generally offered through voluntary organisations or private practitioners, and your GP or local MS Society branch should be able to refer or point you in the right direction. Some branches and regional MS Therapy Centres run counselling sessions themselves, which may be at a discounted rate. For more information about counselling and other talking therapies, head to our emotional support section.
One of the best ways to help maintain your health and wellbeing is to get help and support from others, to make sure you're not doing everything on your own. Find out where and how to get help and support.