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Parent with Multiple Sclerosis

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My Mom has multiple sclerosis. The progression of her MS has seemed to be pretty slow if not even unnoticable as far as the physical symptoms are concerned (meaning they have been basically the same for nearly 20 years). However, I just learned that cognitive failure can be a major factor in the disease. This would explain a lot of the relational problems both my sister as I have had with my Mom. However, my Mom has never told us about this aspect of the disease. I am not sure she is aware of it, or that she would be willing to admit to it even if she was aware. Unfortunately her actions and dealings with me has made it next to impossible to have a relationship with her. I want to be there for her, but it is a struggle when she is so difficult to relate to. It would be so much easier if she were willing to admit that there was a cognitive problem.
I guess my question is: how do you deal with someone with MS if they are unwilling to tell you how the disease is affecting them? Any advice would be helpful.
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replied February 9th, 2009
Community Volunteer
Cognitive issues with MS...common but there is hope.

It can come on gradually and she may not have noticed or maybe she is aware and she notices but hopes that no one else does.

Where does hope come in? There are cognitive tests that can actually help retrain your brain. Her neurologist should be able to direct her to the right person to do the main test to find out where her weakness would be...whether it recognizing faces, numbers, pictures, etc and take it from there.

How to approach her? Be honest and start out by asking her to explain her personal experience with MS as you want to learn more BUT before doing so...brush up on latest MS info...from bladder / bowel issues all the way to cognitive issues and what the latest treatments would be.

You know maybe she is scared that if she admits to her children that she has a cogntive issue that her freedom might be taken away.

I had a cognitive test several years back and it was interesting and I was able to see my strengths and weaknesses and I don't let my mind stay idle...

Other things can cause cognitive issues...has she had her B12 checked or any other labs? Some medication can cause memory issues.
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replied February 10th, 2009
Thanks
Thanks for the reply. I am not sure that it is possible to approach my Mom. Even treading lightly she often overreacts and assumes you are trying to "get her". I am honestly afraid to ask her, and that is a huge part of wondering how to deal with her. Any suggestion that she might have something wrong is taken offensively. She is extremely private, and dosen't even ask for help when she needs it.
Do you have any thoughts for how I can cope even if I can't say anything?
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replied February 10th, 2009
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Has she always kept quiet about her MS? Does she attend a support group or attend informational meetings regarding latest treatment and how to handle issues?

May I ask, what is your mother's age?

Maybe a different approach would work. How about writing her a heartfelt letter.

She may need an MS buddy...another person who has MS or subscribe her to a couple of mags (free of course)...MS Focus, Motivator...both are great resources.

She may never ask for help...would she get offended if you were nice and volunteered (not saying that you wouldn't Smile)
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