30 Tips to Make Life Easier With MS
If you have multiple sclerosis (MS), just putting on a shirt can be difficult. Although the symptoms of MS can vary greatly from person to person, these tips can help most anyone with MS overcome everyday physical challenges.
Dressing and Grooming
1. Cool it.If your MS symptoms are worse in hot weather, wear a cooling vest under your clothing to keep body temperature from rising.
2. Wear easy-on/easy-off clothes.Choose slip-on items and look for apparel that closes with Velcro.
3. Use tools.Special fasteners can help you manipulate buttons and zippers, and other devices can help pull on socks and shoes. “This way you don’t have to strain your hands,” says Shawn Phipps, PhD, chief quality officer and associate hospital administrator for the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey, Calif., and a board member of the American Occupational Therapy Association.
4. Brush with ease.If you have trouble gripping a hairbrush, try one with a loop that fits over your palm.
5. Sit down.If you’re unsteady getting in and out of the tub, install a transfer bench so you can scoot over the edge.
6. Bring the shower to you.Instead of standing in the shower, sit and use a detachable showerhead.
7. Add grab bars.Have them installed around the shower or tub for support.
8. Remodel.Consider moving the faucet and water controls to the middle of the tub rather than at the short end for an easier reach.
9. Speak, don’t type.“With voice-activated programs, you can just speak and the computer will type what you say,” says Joyce Leverenz, MS, CRC, a vocational rehabilitation therapist with TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Tx.
10. Go big.If you have trouble pressing keys on a standard keyboard, get one with larger buttons.
11. Replace the mouse.Try an adaptive computer mouse that uses a trackball to move your cursor or is controlled with your foot.
12. Make the screen easier to see.If your MS symptoms include impaired vision, use a screen magnifier to enlarge text and images on your monitor.
Eating and Drinking
13. Upgrade forks and spoons.Try utensils with easy-grip handles. Adaptive devices are also an option, such as a cuff that helps secure a fork or spoon to your hand so you’re less likely to drop it.
14. Drink easy.If you have trouble tipping your head back to drink, try a cup with a cutout on one side so you can angle the cup while keeping your head still.
15. Keep things handy.Place a mini-fridge in any room you spend a lot of time in to avoid having to always walk to the kitchen.
16. Simplify.Avoid complicated recipes with lots of ingredients or steps.
17. Break up meal prep.Divide cooking into stages — chop vegetables and dice meat earlier in the day, and then at mealtime combine the ingredients and cook.
18. Get a grip.Use an adjustable gripper tool to open jars or manipulate caps.
19. Keep things close.Store often-used cookware and pantry items within your “easy-reach zone” to avoid bending or straining.
20. Spike it.Use a special spiked cutting board, which holds items in place, hands-free, for chopping and cutting.
21. Ask for assistance.Use airport services for passengers with disabilities, such as a cart to your gate, a wheelchair, or a gate pass for a loved one to be able to help you through security.
22. Call ahead.If you have any concerns about going through airport security, call TSA Cares, the Transportation Security Administration’s hotline for travelers with medical conditions, at 855-787-2227. If necessary, they’ll arrange for a representative to assist you at the airport.
23. Cut down on airport security wait times.Sign up for the TSA PreCheck program for expedited security screening at participating airports. You’ll skip hassles like having to remove your shoes.
24. Use a travel agency.A travel agency that specializes in helping people with disabilities can do a lot of the prep work for you.
25. Get carded.You may be eligible for a placard that allows you to use reserved parking spaces closer to buildings. Ask your doctor about signing the paperwork to apply for one.
26. Hand it over.If you have weakness in your feet, consider having hand controls for the gas and brakes installed in your car.
27. Spin things around.If your steering wheel is hard to grip, add a spinner knob for easier control.
28. Get re-trained.Occupational therapy can help pinpoint the MS symptoms that affect your ability to drive and teach you ways to safely adapt. An occupational therapist can also recommend other adaptive automobile equipment.
29. Keep a list.To track which medications to take and when, compile a document of all of your prescription and non-prescription medications, including the dosage, frequency, and the name of your pharmacy.
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