Check List: Managing MS Through the COVID-19 Crisis

Managing MS is challenging, given its unpredictable nature. Managing MS in times of stress – such as we are all experiencing now with the COVID-19 pandemic – can make it even more challenging.

Here are a few tips and resources that may help you and your family manage through this very difficult time...

Medical appointments. Some offices are limiting in-person visits and offering virtual visits when appropriate. Call the office ahead of your appointment to find out if your provider is making virtual visits. If you must be seen in person, ask if there are any specific procedures that you need to know before to arrive.

If you are able to schedule a virtual visit, check with your insurance to be sure virtual visits are covered. If you are unable to be seen virtually or in the office, and have a pressing question for your MS provider, call the office to ask the question. You may need to wait due to the high volume of calls during this time. Please be patient and also persistent.
 
Disease-modifying therapies (DMT). You should not stop your DMT or alter the dosing on your own. If you have concerns about your treatment, consult with your health care provider. Stopping a treatment suddenly can carry the risk of new MS activity, and a thorough discussion of your concerns is important. Medication Supply. Ensure that you have an adequate supply of symptomatic medications or medications for other medical conditions. If this is a concern, please contact your pharmacy benefit manager for advice and also to explore the possibility for mail order. Let your healthcare provider know if there are any disruptions to your medication supply.

Reduce the spread of COVID-19. Here are some guidelines:
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a flexed elbow or tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Practice social distancing. This means avoiding gatherings (greater than 10 people) and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet) from others when possible.
  • Stay home and contact your primary care provider if you think you have come in contact with someone who has COVID-19 or you think you may have the infection.
Home and personal necessities. You may want to go out to purchase groceries or personal items. Please follow any guidelines or restrictions in your specific location, check the CDC recommendations and practice social distancing.

Consider on-line and delivery services for your needed items. Some restaurants may have drive-through options.

Wellness Routine. Sometimes your routine may include group activities outside of your home. As those are now restricted, a transition to home activities can be very helpful. Here are some tips for your overall wellness:
  • Consider a home exercise routine. If you are not sure what to do at home, contact your MS provider office or your rehab professional for advice.
  • Worry and anxiety are common in these very stressful times. Managing anxiety is possible, but you may need help. If you are concerned about your mood, or your loved ones are voicing concern, contact your primary care provider and let her/him know. Read how others reduce anxiety and listen to a RealTalk MS podcast with clinical psychologist Dr. Abbey Hughes.
  • Sleep is restorative and helps provide the energy needed to be resilient in the face of adversity. Try to sleep 7-8 hours each night. See these tips for helping with sleep.
  • With so many of our social outlets canceled, connecting with others is challenging. Try connecting with friends and loved ones by phone or using FaceTime, Skype or other tele-video platforms. Consider online connections, such as a virtual support group.
  • Diet – Try to maintain a healthy diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, adequate fiber and plenty of water. Limit those enticing “comfort foods,” such as sweets and salty snacks, and your alcohol intake.
And remember: We’re here for you!

Learn ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and find additional information and updates on the Society’s Coronavirus Resources Page. If you are having trouble finding the resources you need, reach out to an MS Navigator or an online support group.  
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The National MS Society