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HomeHealthHow to Communicate with Loved Ones About Sensitive Topics

How to Communicate with Loved Ones About Sensitive Topics

Vincent Macaluso, MD, discovered he had multiple sclerosis (MS) while in medical school. Today, he works with MS patients at his clinic in New Hyde Park, NY.

Having experienced MS himself, he understands the impact it can have on one’s cognitive functions and emotions. He also knows the challenge of conveying these changes to others.

Symptoms such as memory issues and depression arise due to MS affecting brain function. Despite these problems significantly affecting one’s life, outward appearances may not always reflect the inner struggles. Macaluso notes that individuals with MS may appear fine externally while battling internal challenges.

Tim Vartanian, MD, director of the Judith Jaffe Multiple Sclerosis Center in New York, mentions that family members or coworkers may notice cognitive changes before the individual does.

It’s crucial to communicate with close ones about your current state and future possibilities to help them comprehend any observed changes and provide support when needed.

More than half of people with MS may face cognitive difficulties at some point, referred to by some as “cog fog.” Common symptoms include slowed thinking, memory lapses, and issues with executive function.

Memory problems often take precedence, affecting recent and distant recollections. While daily symptoms may be mild for many, even minor memory lapses can present challenges, leading to work interruptions.

To express the feeling of memory struggles, connecting it to relatable scenarios can be helpful. For instance, comparing it to the frustration of misplacing car keys can aid in conveying the impact of MS-related memory issues.

People with MS should collaborate with neuropsychologists to enhance cognitive abilities through mental and physical exercises. Addressing factors like depression, anxiety, and stress is imperative for brain function, as highlighted by Vartanian.

Inform your loved ones about strategies to manage MS-related memory problems.

Keep it cool: Optimal brain function for many with MS is in cooler environments. Spending time in a cool, distraction-free setting can aid in focus.

Make to-do lists: Utilize recorders or phone apps for reminders and notify friends to assist in the process.

Set a routine: Establish a designated spot for essentials like keys and glasses, ensuring your loved ones are aware of these locations.

Sound the alarm: Use alerts on devices to prompt actions, enabling loved ones to set similar alarms for reminders.

Put it on repeat: Repeating information aids in memory retention for both you and your acquaintances.

Depression is a prevalent symptom in MS that can be challenging to discuss due to perceived stigma. It’s essential to communicate feelings with close individuals, emphasizing that depression requires treatment like any other symptom.

Jessica Thomas, a social worker with MS in Greensboro, NC, emphasizes the need for support systems to manage emotions effectively. Exercise plays a vital role in overall health and may be more beneficial for depression than medication. Establishing an MS-free zone, such as a hobby, is also beneficial.

Inform your loved ones about strategies to prevent and manage depression by adopting healthy habits and seeking assistance when needed.

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