Hoping this forum can offer some help and advice as I’m not too sure where to turn and am at a bit of a loss.
I’ll try to break this down so it is easy to follow -
My Mum is 66 years old and has been diagnosed with Secondary Progressive MS for around 10 years, though as is often the case it may have been underlying for much longer. At first it made little difference to her life, however over the past few years she has become increasingly disabled to the point she is now unable to leave the house unassisted and even at home often has falls, etc. Fortunately to date, she has not received any major injuries to date, and has things like a stair-lift and a wet room, however I am constantly concerned that it will only be a matter of time before she injures herself severely as a result of a fall.
I have attended various doctors/consultant appointments with her and the good news is that the consultant explained that her type of MS is the “least bad” kind, she is not prone to any major relapses (to date the only one of note was an episode of blurred vision which was treated with corticosteroids), and her prognosis is that with the right diet and exercise she will be able to lead a life similar to someone of her age without MS.
However, it is also of importance to note that she suffers from severe depression, compounded by her MS, which has led to a vicious circle. She was unable to attend the physiotherapy sessions offered to her due to being unable to interact with other people (it was group therapy) and took a dislike to the physio she was assigned. She also finds it very difficult, if not impossible to motivate herself to do any exercise at home, or eat adequately. Again, this is compounded by the fact her illness has robbed her of the ability to take part in activities she previously enjoyed, such as volunteering at a local stately home. She feels at a loss, like there is no point in making any improvements. She is receiving help for this, and has done for many years but is currently waiting to see someone specifically relating to her mental health problems and how they affect her MS, however as is often the case with this, there is a long waiting list.
To finish, and again compounding matters and creating a vicious circle, her total lack of exercise (while her stair-lift could obviously save her life, it means she doesn’t even walk up the stairs anymore, and her falls mean she is to scared to walk and only tends to shuffle) and poor diet has caused muscle wasting which means her falls have become worse. Whereas the initial loss of balance is of course caused by the MS and cannot be helped, she is unable to do anything about falling uncontrollably due to an extreme lack of strength and agility.
Despite the above, she is desperate to make changes which will make her life better and improve her standard of living. I am willing to help her out as and when needed, but she is quite insistent that her illness should not become a “burden” on anyone else, especially if she can do something about it. However, despite being quite fit and strong myself, I am totally clueless as to what is required and what might help her. Both of us therefore have a few questions I hope people can help with -
What sort of exercise plan would be recommended for someone in her condition? Again, I am willing to help her with this on a regular basis, but while I’m used to training and offering advice to friends who come to the gym with me, I have no idea where to begin here. She does have the MS Society exercise DVD which seems like it could help (the one presented by the guy who played Mr Motivator) and was wondering if people think this is a decent routine to follow, or if people have any other routines/advice/links they could offer?
Does anyone have a diet plan that is ideal for someone with MS? Again, I am more than familiar with diet plans to help guys who want to put on muscle, so this is a totally new area for me. I have seen some basic advice online, but it all seems a bit scattered and “obvious” if that makes sense? Of course, I realise that healthy foods and plenty of fruit and veg are ideal, but was wondering if there’s any diet plans/recipes I could show to her?
This is kind of a sticking point as most of them are required, but she on various medications for existing conditions, such as anti-depressants and clonazepam for temporal-lobe epilepsy which affected her briefly many decades ago and has been kept in check since. She is obviously very fearful of coming off these tablets in case it returns, despite a GP nonchalantly suggesting she’d “probably” be OK without them, but I note a few threads/articles which suggest clonazepam can have an affect on balance and muscle strength. Is there a list of medications that could affect MS negatively?
Finally, and as I said above she will need some more help with her mental health issues first so this is more out of interest for now, but are there support groups in the local area (North West England) that might be able to offer some help? I’m not sure what help she might need/accept at the moment aside from the above, but it is always nice to know.
Sorry for the long post, but I do worry immensely about her, and have promised I will take some action to try to find some help. I am sure, given what doctors/consultants have said, that she can recover a great deal more mobility than she has at the moment, and in turn this will massively benefit her mental wellbeing. As I say though, it’s all a bit confusing and I’m not too sure where to start, so thank you for reading!