Multiple Sclerosis: Tips for Taking Charge of Your Future
In spite of the unpredictability of multiple sclerosis (MS), you can do a lot to feel prepared. Because MS is so variable from one person to the next, and people's life circumstances are so different, no one-size-fits-all solutions exist. But, the process involved in developing a safety net is basically the same for everyone.
Here are some books to help you think through your personal situation, formulate the right questions, and identify additional resources:
Adapting: Financial Planning for a life with Multiple Sclerosis, by the National Endowment for Financial Education
You can request this book from the National MS Society by calling (800) FIGHT-MS (800-344-4867) or by going to the National MS Society website
Multiple Sclerosis: The Questions You Have; The Answers You Need, fifth edition, edited by Rosalind Kalb (Demos Health)
Multiple Sclerosis: A Guide for Families, third edition, edited by Rosalind Kalb (Demos Medical Publishing)
When you're ready to take charge of your future, follow these steps:
Take the time to learn about the ways MS can change over time.
For example, even though MS is an unpredictable disease, it's helpful for your planning purposes to know that the majority of people who are diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS transition to a more progressive course after about 15 years.
Let yourself think ahead (even if it's scary).
Even though a head-in-the-sand approach may feel more comfortable, it won't serve you well in the long run. But, thinking ahead about ways that MS may affect your lifestyle can help keep you one step ahead if and when you experience major changes.
Ask the right questions of the right people.
You don't have to figure everything out alone. Legal, vocational, and financial experts can help you get your thoughts in order. Share your concerns about employment and your financial future — whatever they may be — and let these folks guide you.
Develop the plan that feels right for you.
Even with input from all the experts, you're the only one who can decide exactly what's right for you. So, gather all the information you can, and then take whatever steps you need to in order to feel prepared — whether that means increasing your savings, requesting accommodations in the workplace, or training for a different kind of career.
Take steps now to begin putting the plan into action.
At this stage, you bravely forge ahead, bringing your plan to life. Acting on your plan will help you feel stronger and more prepared no matter what MS brings your way.
Go on with your life.
We want smart planning to be part of your life, but we certainly don't want it to be the most important part. Don't get so involved in planning for your future that you forget to live your life and enjoy the present.